Japan to relax event restrictions this week despite Tokyo virus spike

Clay Curtis
July 6, 2020

"In order for their wishes to come true, I would like to press ahead firmly with coronavirus responses".

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike declared victory in Sunday's vote to elect the leader of one of the world's most populous cities and immediately vowed to step up the fight against a recent coronavirus resurgence.

The idea, she told a news conference later Monday, is not to establish a new organization in a new building but to establish a system aimed at strengthening coordination among infections diseases experts, medical doctors, hospitals and other officials, while cooperating internationally, both in case of emergency and at ordinary times.

Koike said, however, that another state of emergency nationwide or in Tokyo would be hard because the economy had already been battered by seven weeks of restrictions in April and May.

Japan's infection rates remain far below many other countries but the rising number of cases and the possibility of renewed restrictions have put authorities and businesses on edge.

A record 22 candidates ran in Sunday's election with popular actor-turned-politician Taro Yamamoto and veteran lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya competing alongside Koike. Meanwhile, Yamamoto wanted to cancel the Tokyo Olympics altogether and use the funds to assist those affected by the crisis.

Major media exit polls suggested a landslide victory after voting stations closed at 8 p.m., as Koike shrugged off challenges from a wide range of candidates, many of whom were political novices.

EU Greenlights Use of Remdesivir to Treat COVID-19
Gilead said Japan, Taiwan, India, Singapore and the UAE have also approved it as a COVID-19 therapy. Remdesivir is in high demand because it helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial.

Tokyo retiree Hidekazu Tamura said he voted for Koike because of her effort to keep the Olympics.

The latest figure is set to fuel concerns about a second wave of infections in the capital, where business and social activities have been returning to normal in stages.

As for the Olympics, she said, "the coronavirus infection is also the priority here as well".

Koike, 67, will also be the face of the host city of the next Olympics, which had been scheduled to start this month but were postponed by a year because of the coronavirus.

As the pandemic deepened in the spring, Koike often upstaged fellow conservative Abe, whose approval ratings have plunged due to his handling of the crisis and its severe impact on the economy, on top of a slew of scandals.

"I can not feel completely happy (with this victory) as Tokyo is in the middle of a pandemic", Ms Koike, formerly a defence and environment minister, told a televised news conference. She earned the nickname "Migratory Bird" for hopping between parties and forming new alliances - doing it at least seven times - a rarity among Japanese politicians, who are known for their loyalty to party factions.

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