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Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency to June 20

Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency to June 20
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga meets with Vice President Kamala Harris (not shown) prior to his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on April 16, 2021. Suga and his government on Friday extended a coronavirus state of emergency in Japan until June 20. Photo by Stefani Reynolds /UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- The Japanese central government on Friday extended its coronavirus state of emergency for nine prefectures to June 20 just a little more than a month before the scheduled Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in Tokyo.

Government leaders in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures had called for the state of emergency to be extended past May 31, the original deadline.

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In affected areas, businesses that serve alcohol and use karaoke equipment will temporarily close and commercial facilities with floor space of more than 1,000 square meters will remain open until 8 p.m. unless ordered to close altogether by the government.

The current state of emergency, which was first ordered in April, is Japan's third since the COVID-19 pandemic and has been extended three times.

The state of emergency was expanded as the movement grows for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled. The newspaper Asahi Shimbun, one of the local sponsors, wrote an editorial Wednesday calling on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to "to calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancellation of the event this summer."

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"The foremost priority must lie on maintaining a basic structure that protects the lives, health and livelihoods of citizens," the editorial said. "The Olympics must never be allowed to invite a situation that threatens this structure."

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