• Kyodo

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Seat reservations for shinkansen and limited express services for the upcoming Golden Week holidays have plunged 90 percent to a record low in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, data by six major railway companies showed Tuesday.

Total seat reservations as of Monday at East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co., Hokkaido Railway Co., Shikoku Railway Co. and Kyushu Railway Co. for the period April 24 to May 6 were the lowest since 1997 when comparable data became available.

The six regional railway operators privatized in 1987 release the data about two weeks after they start taking reservations for the Golden Week period made up of several closely spaced national holidays.

Reservations for Tokaido Shinkansen services connecting Tokyo and Osaka were down 91 percent from a year earlier, according to Central Japan Railway, while West Japan Railway saw a 92 percent decline in Sanyo Shinkansen bookings.

East Japan Railway separately said it will cancel operations of 923 shinkansen trains and 340 limited express and high-speed trains in May due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The central and regional governments have been requesting that residents to stay home and refrain from nonessential outings to curb the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on April 7 a monthlong state of emergency for Tokyo and six prefectures: Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

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