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The Prime Minister in Action

Press Conference regarding the Partial Lifting of the State of Emergency and Other Matters

May 21, 2020

Photograph of the Prime Minister holding the press conference

Photograph of the Prime Minister holding the press conference

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister holding the press conference
[Provisional Translation]
On May 21, 2020, the Prime Minister held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Regarding the partial lifting of the state of emergency and other matters, the Prime Minister made the following statements,

“Based upon the assessment by the experts on the current situation such as the epidemiological situation and medical treatment structure in accordance with the formulated criteria, we have decided to lift the declaration of the state of emergency in the prefectures of Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo in the Kansai region. I would like to once again express my respect to healthcare professionals giving their all on the frontlines under the state of emergency, as well my sincere gratitude to citizens for their efforts such as refraining from going out.

Business operators are gritting their teeth and working diligently in this severe situation, facing an extreme loss of revenue and other challenges. In just over ten days since beginning to disburse the Sustainability Subsidy of up to 2 million yen, we have already provided over 500 billion yen to more than 400,000 small- and medium-sized business operators, prioritizing speed above all. We will continue to exert every effort to protect business continuity, employment and livelihoods.

The people of the Kansai region are to enter the next stage towards a new normal for everyday life, in which they will start restoring socio-economic activities at full scale, while preventing the spread of infections. Guidelines on preventive measures have already been formulated for nearly 100 industries. Since Osaka is a city of commerce, I have high expectations that the Kansai region will present a new model for doing business in the age of the coronavirus, while referring to these guidelines and taking sufficient precautions.

In addition, we will also enhance the screening structure with antigen and other test methods and strengthen the medical treatment structure, in collaboration with prefectural governors and local governments, so that we will be fully prepared for the next wave of infections.

While the state of emergency will remain in place in four prefectures in the Kanto region and Hokkaido, the number of new infections is clearly decreasing and the situation of stretched medical systems is also improving. Therefore, we will request the experts to assess the situation once again at the beginning of next week, as early as May 25, and if the current trend continues, we consider it possible to lift the state of emergency. The citizens in these areas are bearing a great burden, but we would like to ask them to continue their efforts, such as refraining from going out.”

“Just before this, I received a report from Minister of Justice Mori. She has confirmed the facts from Superintending Prosecutor Kurokawa and taken a strict disciplinary measure; afterwards, he offered his resignation. I was informed that she approved his resignation. I understand the action taken by the Ministry of Justice.”

“Regarding the extension of the retirement age, this issue was addressed by the Ministry of Justice. We believe that this was done based on a due process.”

“While this personnel matter was handled by the Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecutors Office, the final decision was made by the Cabinet. Therefore, I take the responsibility as the Prime Minister on this issue and I will accept any criticism seriously.”

“When advancing civil service reforms, reforms including the extension of the retirement age of the entirety of civil servants, it is essential to listen to the voices of the people. I do not think we can move forward without the understanding of the people. In this context, Mr. Seko, Secretary-General for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the House of Councillors, expressed his views, stating that the current social situation is extremely severe and differs greatly to that when this bill was originally formulated. I am aware that similar views are shared among other members of the LDP. We must review this matter carefully, taking also into account the points I just mentioned.”

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