• Jiji


The National Governors' Association during a Sunday videoconference called on the government to ask the public to avoid summer holiday travel across prefectural borders in principle, including trips to their parents' homes during the Bon holidays in mid-August, to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The association referred to a study on how to implement stronger regimes such as lockdown in order to increase the efficacy of infection prevention measures.

"We are at a critical juncture where we must stop the explosive spread of infections at any cost," Kamon Iizumi, governor of Tokushima Prefecture and head of the association, said at the start of the teleconference of the group of prefectural governors.

In a set of proposals compiled at the remote meeting, the association cited the rapid resurgence in coronavirus infection cases blamed on the highly contagious delta variant and said that "we must not waste any time in containing the fifth wave of infections," as flows of people will increase toward the culmination of the summer holiday season.

The group called on the national government to work with prefectural governments on asking citizens to refrain from homecoming travel and trips to and from areas with spikes in coronavirus infections.

As to binding measures, Shuichi Abe, governor of Nagano Prefecture, said during the videoconference, "I want the national government to seriously consider a legal framework, including on lockdown-like restrictions on movements."

Yoshinori Yamaguchi, governor of Saga Prefecture, said: "The words 'state of emergency' have already lost their impact. Strong and effective coronavirus measures need to be implemented."

The association urged the state to issue a strong message asking young people to change their behavior at a time when the proportion of youths in overall new cases has been rising.

The government should thoroughly control activities of foreign visitors related to the ongoing Tokyo Olympics while asking Japanese people to watch the Games on television, the association said.

The state needs to promote vaccinations against the virus by fully utilizing shots from U.S. pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC of Britain, it also said.

The videoconference was attended by 44 governors. "I'm concerned that a medical crisis could hit the entire country unless trips across prefectural borders are reduced," said Tsugumasa Muraoka, governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Mieko Yoshimura, governor of Yamagata, asked the government for measures to encourage young people to get vaccinated against the virus, saying that some in their 20s and 30s are opting not to receive vaccine shots.

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