Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday sounded cautious about the idea of letting schools across the nation shut again in the event a second wave of novel coronavirus infections hits the country.

“If certain conditions are met, the government will issue a coronavirus state of emergency again, for some regions, and consider requesting schools there to close,” he said at a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councilors in response to a question from Teruhiko Mashiko of the major opposition Democratic Party for the People.

But Abe added, “Whether to ask schools across the nation to shut is a different matter.”

The prime minister said his request in late February for nationwide school closures had “a certain effect.”

“Only a few countries had adopted across-the-board school closures at the time, but the measure is now being utilized by most countries to prevent infection,” he added.

Following Abe’s request, many schools in Japan closed from the beginning of March. Many are starting to resume classes while taking infection prevention measures.

The Japanese government declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus on April 7 for seven of the country’s 47 prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. It was expanded nationwide April 16.

The state of emergency was fully lifted by late May while concerns remain over a second and third wave of infections.

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