Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrupt decision to call on schools nationwide to shut down starting Monday marked a defining moment in his response to the coronavirus outbreak.

But what prompted it? Critics say the prime minister’s aggressive move Thursday may have come in response to mounting political pressure at home and growing international censure over the government’s response.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.