Only around 37% of firms in the prefectures under Japan’s current state of emergency have met the government’s target of cutting commuters by 70% or more to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a business lobby survey has shown.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, held a remote meeting with leaders of the country’s largest business lobby, Keidanren, which released the survey Friday, and other major business bodies. Nishimura requested they push members to more strongly promote teleworking to help meet the target.
Nishimura said the number of people commuting decreased by 40% in the Tokyo metropolitan area based on calculations of train passengers and 30% in prefectures in western Japan. He emphasized the importance of meeting the government’s target so the state of emergency, scheduled to expire Feb. 7, will not have to be extended longer than necessary.
Nobuyuki Koga, who chairs the board of councilors of Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation, said that while many large businesses have been able to cut the number of commuters, it is proving more of a challenge for smaller firms.
The Keidanren survey, which received valid responses from about 500 companies in the 11 prefectures under the state of emergency, also found that the number of people commuting to work was reduced by 65% or around 870,000. The figure did not include those considered essential workers.
Tokyo confirmed 868 new coronavirus cases Friday, with the count showing a downward trend in recent days. The capital has seen four-digit daily increases on many days this month, logging a record 2,447 new cases on Jan. 7.
Nationwide, daily cases topped 3,500, bringing the country’s cumulative total to nearly 385,000.
At a news conference Friday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the figures have not shown a “noticeable change” in the three weeks since the emergency was declared for the capital and three adjacent prefectures. The declaration by the central government was later expanded to cover 11 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the state of emergency declaration will expire on Feb. 7, but government and ruling party sources say it will likely be extended, with one option being until the end of February.
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