Japan declares state of emergency and prepares $ 1 trillion stimulus

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency Tuesday to combat the spread of coronavirus infections in populated centers and presented a stimulus package he described as one of the largest in the world to mitigate the economic impact.

Abe has announced a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, which make up about 44% of Japan’s population, for about a month.

“We decided to declare a state of emergency, considering that a rapid spread of coronavirus at the national level would have a huge impact on the lives of people and the economy,” the prime minister said in parliament.

The government is expected to complete the $ 108 billion ($ 990 billion) stimulus program, equivalent to 20% of Japan’s economic output, to mitigate the impact of the epidemic on the world’s third-largest economy.

The amount is higher than US President Donald Trump’s stimulus program, equivalent to 11% of US economic output, and Germany’s program, which represents 5% of output.

Abe said the state’s direct spending will amount to 39 billion yen, or 7 percent of GDP, more than twice as high as Japan’s after the collapse of US bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

In Japan, the increase in coronavirus cases has been slower than in other countries but has accelerated in recent days. In Tokyo, the number of cases of infections has increased in the last week more than twice, to around 1,200, of which more than 80 were confirmed on Tuesday, is the highest in the country. Nationally, the number of cases rose to over 4,000, and the number of deaths to 93, according to Monday’s data.

Abe stressed that the state of emergency will not officially block the country, as has happened in many other countries.

The state of emergency allows authorities to ask people to stay at home and companies to cease their activity. In most cases, there are no penalties for ignoring recommendations, but these are based on pressures between people and on compliance with the authorities.

Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said the city is discussing with the government what types of services will be closed or which will reduce its work schedule, but reiterated that there will be no restrictions on the purchase of food and drugs.

The government will not ask railway companies to reduce traffic, the prime minister said.

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Taku Eto, has asked the buyers to keep calm and buy only what they need.

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