The government looks set to decide Thursday whether to end the state of emergency covering the Tokyo area, but opinion is divided on whether the situation has improved enough to lift restrictions, given that a fall in daily new cases across the region appears to have plateaued.

While many experts agreed that extending the emergency beyond March 7 was worth it to tamp down an uptick in cases that threatened to derail the Olympics, some fear that the spread of virus variants and/or a delay to the vaccine rollout could undo all that work. The economic mood has soured among large firms, and growth for the end of 2020 has been revised downward.

With the Go To Travel campaign unlikely to be rebooted anytime soon, not just travel and transport operators but also shops and restaurants at transport hubs are struggling, the Chunichi Shimbun reports from Aichi. Further north, Hokkaido Airports Co. was handed a poisoned chalice just in time for the arrival of the pandemic: control of all airport buildings across the prefecture.

Japanese PM Suga receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Japanese PM Suga receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

On the job front, the overall number of people fired or whose contracts were not renewed because of the pandemic across Japan rose by 3,169 to 93,354 earlier this month. The job availability ratio fell 0.42 point to 1.18 in 2020, the fastest pace since 1975, while average total earnings per worker fell 1.2%.

Those figures don’t look terribly bad, but they also don’t tell the full story. The pandemic has hit those at the bottom of the economic ladder the hardest. On Tuesday, the government adopted emergency steps including handouts of ¥50,000 in cash per child for low-income families. But one influential ruling party lawmaker believes the government must spend twice what it has already to jump-start a recovery.

Tuesday’s (and last Tuesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 300 (290), Saitama 96 (106), Kanagawa 91 (100), Osaka 86 (103), Hyogo 78 (41), Chiba 76 (82), Hokkaido 69 (63), Miyagi 69 (35), Aichi 30 (39). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker