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This year’s Tokyo Motor Show will be canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Chairman Akio Toyoda said Thursday.

It will be difficult to hold the show, staged every two years in the capital, while seeking to ensure the safety of participants during the pandemic, Toyoda, who is also president of Toyota Motor Corp., told reporters at a briefing for the industry group.

"The Tokyo Motor Show is being canceled, not delayed,” Toyoda said. "It’s difficult to hold the event in a way in which many people will be able to experience the appeal of mobility in a safe and secure environment.”

The biennial auto show is a major event attracting people and companies from various automotive and other fields, with the latest event held in 2019 drawing some 1.3 million people.

It will be the first cancellation of the event, which was first held in 1954.

The Shanghai Motor Show is being held this week in China.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is considering whether to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and other areas, and ramp up restrictions to contain a surge in coronavirus cases just three months before the start of the delayed Olympics. Although infection numbers in Japan aren’t as high as other developed economies, the country has struggled to keep cases under control in recent weeks.

"The Tokyo Motor show collaborates with a number of industries to envision a new future for mobility,” Toyoda added. "It welcomes 1.3 million people in person. We don’t want to hold the event online, we want to hold it in-person. That’s why we’ve chosen to cancel the show this time.”

Toyoda also said during the online news conference that the auto industry body opposes the government's policy of banning sales of new gasoline-engine vehicles. "We need to first expand other (technological) options to achieve carbon neutrality. We should follow the right order," he said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and unveiled the goal of making all new cars sold in the country electrified by 2035.

Toyoda said he supports Suga's 2050 emissions-cut target, but argued it should be addressed by the efforts of all industries, including the government's measures to increase electricity generated by renewable sources.

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