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Regional economies have been worsening rapidly and are in an “extremely severe situation” as the coronavirus takes its toll, the Finance Ministry said Monday, the harshest language it has used since the inception of its quarterly report in 2001.

The ministry downgraded its overall assessment for Japan’s 11 regions for the first time since October 2012. It said in January that while there was some weakness in manufacturing activity, the regions were “recovering.”

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