Abe to the Nation on COVID-19: ‘We Need Your Cooperation Under This State of Emergency’

TOKYO – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged people to cooperate with the government as Japan continues to battle the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On April 17, Abe said that medical staff members in the country are becoming mentally and physically distressed over the viral outbreak.

He asked the public to stay home and refrain from going out to curb the spread of coronavirus, and ease the heavy burden on hospitals and the healthcare system.

“Please do not go outside as much as possible,” he requested citizens in a televised press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to Abe, person-to-person contacts has to be reduced by at least 70 percent, or preferably 80 percent to stop the spread of the disease.

The Japanese leader began his remarks by expressing his appreciation to the nation’s frontliners for their contributions as the country grappled with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Day and night, there are people out there who are working so hard, and without their presence we cannot fight this COVID-19,” he stressed.

Abe also mentioned about the measures that have to be taken prior to the upcoming Golden Week holidays, which start later this month and run until May 6, the last day of Japan’s state of emergency.

“Movements in urban areas and countrysides need to be averted by any means,” he said, adding that “business suspensions will be needed.”

Moreover, he outlined the government’s cash handout program highlighting the 100,000 yen cash that will be given to every single person in the country, while promising its swift delivery.

“Speed has to be priotitized,” he emphasized.

“We will use mail and online functions to avoid contacts,” he said.

From 6 trillion yen, the total amount of cash assistance is expected to reach more than 14 trillion yen.

“We’d like to pass the budget as soon as possible,” he stated, which he followed with an apology for the sudden turnaround regarding cash payments to those suffering from falling incomes amid the spread of the virus.

Initially, the Japanese government pledged a 300,000 yen cash handout to needy households.

Abe added that business operators such as bar owners and event organizers whose sales and revenues have declined will be provided with cash assistance, while freelancers and small and medium-sized enterprises will be given provision in the financial aid package by the central government.

“We need to be one to combat COVID-19, and safeguard lives and livelihoods,” he asserted.

Abe on April 16 expanded the state of emergency beyond Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures to the whole country in an attempt to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading further.

Japan on Monday has confirmed more than 10,000 domestic cases of COVID-19, and has reported 236 deaths from the virus nationwide. - Florenda Corpuz

(Photo credit: © Cabinet Public Relations Office)