• Kyodo, Jiji


The Kyoto Prefectural Government will ask the central government to add it to regions placed under a state of emergency amid the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Takatoshi Nishiwaki said Friday.

Nishiwaki announced the plan as the number of people infected with the virus has topped 160 in the prefecture, one of the top tourist destinations in Japan. Kyoto is also adjacent to Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, which are already covered by the emergency declaration.

“(We are) in a severe situation,” Nishiwaki told a news conference, noting that infection routes of Kyoto has confirmed 165 coronavirus cases. On Thursday, the first death from the virus was reported.

Nishiwaki said his prefecture has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases per 10,000 people.

In addition, the number of cases whose infection routes are unknown is increasing, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the total, he said.

The governor reiterated his request that residents refrain from leaving home for nonessential purposes. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and five prefectures with big urban populations that have been grappling with a recent sharp uptrend in the number of new cases.

Speaking at the same news conference, Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa called for restraint on sightseeing trips to the city until the virus is under control.

In a related development, Aichi Prefecture, home to Toyota Motor Corp.’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities, declared its own monthlong state of emergency Friday afternoon and requested that people refrain from making nonessential outings and visits to the seven regions placed under the central government’s state of emergency declaration. Aichi’s governor has asked the central government to add it to the list.

The closure request for elementary, junior high and prefectural high schools in the prefecture will be extended until May 6.

The Aichi Prefectural Government also plans to take steps to bolster its health care system and support businesses hit hard by the virus’s spread.

On Friday, the governor of neighboring Gifu, Hajime Furuta, also issued an emergency declaration in the afternoon.

Unlike the central government’s declaration, those issued by the prefectures have no legal basis.

Once added to the list of prefectures in the declaration, governors can expropriate private land and buildings to battle the virus, requisition medical supplies and food from companies that refuse to sell them, and punish those that hoard or refuse to comply. They can also force companies to help transport emergency goods.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the central government will listen to opinions from experts in considering the requests from Aichi and Kyoto.

Experts currently do not think that Aichi and others should be added to the list, Suga said.

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