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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.”

It noted Monday that the coronavirus outbreak had caused a sharp fall in household spending and ate into overseas demand for Japanese exports.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month declared a nationwide state of emergency, calling on people to stay at home as much as possible.

The report usually comes after a meeting of the heads of the ministry’s regional bureaus, but the gathering this time was called off amid concerns over the virus spread.

All 11 bureaus downgraded their individual assessments, with the Kanto region centering on Tokyo seeing a decline in spending at hotels, restaurants and department stores.

In the Tokai region, home to Toyota Motor Corp., there was a “sharp fall” in production, while the number of tourists fell sharply in Okinawa.

Looking forward, all bureaus voiced concerns over the impact of the pandemic.

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