Business / Corporate

Corporate Japan backs coronavirus emergency declaration

Jiji

The Japanese business world is in full support behind Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s declaration of a state of emergency over the new coronavirus outbreak.

“The government has made a big decision, and we take it seriously,” Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, said Tuesday evening after Abe took the emergency step. “We’ll fully support and comply with requests and instructions from the central and local governments in order to end this crisis.”

The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai, and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry also expressed support for the government’s decision.

The business world will cooperate by bolstering teleworking systems and through other methods. Companies supporting basic infrastructure for daily lives, including electric, gas and financial service providers, as well as supermarkets, are preparing to continue their operations.

Meanwhile, concerns are mounting that restrictions placed under the declaration will seriously harm the economy by causing a slump in consumption. An estimate puts the possible economic loss at ¥5.7 trillion.

The state of emergency, covering Tokyo and six prefectures hit by major outbreaks, will be in place for a month until May 6. Their governors will be authorized to request that residents stay home, the use of facilities be halted and events be canceled.

Yasuhide Yajima, chief economist at the NLI Research Institute, estimates that the country’s gross domestic product will be pushed down by ¥5.7 trillion due to the monthlong state of emergency.

“The loss may expand if the state of emergency drags on,” he said, noting the need to take economic stimulus measures continuously.

In the regions covered by the declaration, sales of daily necessities, including food, medicine and gasoline, will continue, as will financial and public transportation services.

Supermarkets and convenience stores will remain open though some outlets may shorten their business hours. Bank outlets and automated teller machines will also be opened in principle.

The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group said it will deploy the minimum number of workers needed to maintain its services.

Major electric power and gas companies will work to provide a stable power supply by enforcing distancing between workers at power plants and liquefied natural gas stations, as well as by allowing them to commute using their own vehicles to reduce the risk of infections.

Railway operators will continue their regular train services. East Japan Railway Co. is not considering reducing its regular services at the moment, according to President Yuji Fukasawa.

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