• Kyodo


People across Japan are expressing concern about the economic and social impact of the government's state of emergency extension.

In the Marunouchi business district in Tokyo, Hiroshi Aso, a 47-year-old who lives in the capital's Meguro Ward, said, "As the number of infections has not decreased so much, the extension seems unavoidable."

The government is set to extend the state of emergency for Tokyo and other regions by one month to March 7.

However, Aso, who was on his way to work, said he does not feel that the adoption of remote work by his company due to the government's request is "too much hassle."

For Osamu Kondo, a 53-year-old taxi driver, the emergency extension "cannot be helped," but he said he has felt a hit as taxis compete for fewer and fewer clients.

Kondo, who was interviewed while in a taxi queue in front of JR Tokyo Station, said he has been working days rather than nights as many eateries have been closing at 8 p.m. in line with a Tokyo Metropolitan Government request made when the state of emergency was reinstated in January.

Under the emergency declaration, the government has also urged people to refrain from unnecessary outings.

In Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, where the state of emergency is also expected to be extended, Keiko Tanaka, 57, who works at a dining establishment, complained that the amount of compensation paid to businesses complying with closure requests has proven insufficient.

A 20-year-old university student also in Sakai said his part-time working hours have been reduced and that he hopes the measure "will be lifted (by the government) after assessing the situation."

Meanwhile, Tochigi Prefecture will see the emergency declaration lifted as the virus situation has significantly improved.

In Tochigi's capital, Utsunomiya, Masataka Inoue, 48, who works at a clothing retailer, said he saw more people coming to the store starting last weekend in the wake of news reports saying the state of emergency would be lifted in the prefecture.

"While I'm expecting the return of customers who have avoided shopping, I am also worried that infection cases will increase again if people are less careful (in taking anti-virus steps)," Inoue said.

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