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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is struggling to find a delicate balance between tough new measures to prevent the spread of the highly contagious omicron coronavirus variant and his desire to kick-start economic activity in the country.

The Kishida administration decided Friday to put three prefectures — including hard-hit Okinawa — under a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency in a bid to halt a rapid rise in infections, despite calls by some to take a wait-and-see approach amid fears the measures could hurt the economy.

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