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Japan's governors seek Golden Week traffic rules to stem virus spread

Jiji

Prefectural governors called on the central government Thursday to introduce traffic regulations on national roads during the Golden Week holidays to minimize people’s movement across prefectural borders in the fight against the coronavirus.

In its proposal submitted to the central government, the National Governors’ Association also called for a ban on the use of state-managed parking spaces during the holiday period running from later this month to early May.

“We want to work with the central government to achieve a target of reducing interpersonal contact by 80 percent during the long holiday,” Kamon Iizumi, chief of the association and governor of Tokushima Prefecture, said during a videoconference with the central government.

In addition to seeking the special measures for Golden Week, the association asked the central government not to impose taxes on subsidies to be provided as “cooperation money” to businesses that suspend their operations at the request of prefectural governments.

The governors also called on the central government to seek industry organizations’ cooperation with prefectural governments’ business suspension requests.

“Now that two weeks have passed since the Japanese government declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus crisis, the results of our countermeasures will be put to the test,” economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said during the conference.

Iizumi told reporters after the meeting that the governors want the central government to introduce traffic regulations, but stopped short of asking that national roads be closed to all traffic. Nishimura told the governors that he will convey the proposals to the transport ministry, according to Iizumi.

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