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Prefectural governors nationwide have called on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to implement powerful anti-coronavirus measures in an area-focused way.

“We ask you to exercise strong leadership to set target areas and take powerful, effective measures there,” Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi, head of the National Governors’ Association, told Suga on Friday during a government-sponsored meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

During his first meeting with members of the association as prime minister, Suga said noted that the country was facing a vexing challenge.

“Seeing new national coronavirus cases top 2,000 every day, we are on a maximum alert,” he said, stressing that his administration remains determined to put the economy back on the recovery path while doing its utmost to prevent the spread of the virus.

Responding to calls for the central government to halt the Go To stimulus campaigns amid the pandemic’s resurgence in various parts of the country, Suga reiterated that the government is requesting no more than four people have meals and drinks together in virus hot spots.

Suga also responded cautiously to the association’s demand that prefectural governments be given more power under the special coronavirus response law.

“We’ll continue to consider the matter by listening to wide-ranging opinions,” he said.

Meanwhile, when the governors sought a five-year extension of the three-year emergency program to make the country more disaster-resilient. The program is set to expire at the end of next March, and the prime minister vowed to make a budget allocation for the extension.

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