Tokyo Motor Show canceled as Japan faces another state of emergency

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The cancellation comes as the government is expected to issue a third state of emergency for Tokyo and a number of other prefectures that could last around two weeks.


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The end of the motor show, the flagship event of the country’s most important industry

Tokyo Motor Show 2019

Tokyo will not host its auto show this year due to the global pandemic, organizers said Thursday, highlighting Japan’s struggle to contain both a resurgence of the epidemic and the widening economic fallout. The cancellation comes as the government is expected to issue a third state of emergency for Tokyo and a number of other prefectures that could last around two weeks, according to media reports.

The shutdown of the auto show, a flagship event for the country’s most important industry, is also likely to raise more questions about the government’s insistence that the delayed Tokyo Olympics take place this summer. .

Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association chairman Akio Toyoda said the group found it difficult to provide a safe environment amid the surge in coronavirus cases. The show normally takes place from late October to early November.

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Such cancellations are bad news for an economy that, like many around the world, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Some analysts have said another state of emergency could push Japan back into recession if retailers are asked to close during the Golden Week holidays, which begin next week and end in early May.

“The risk of a double-dip recession has clearly increased,” said Hiroshi Shiraishi, senior economist at BNP Paribas Securities. “The impact of imposing borders on Tokyo and Osaka would be quite significant.”

Japan has so far avoided an explosive spread of the pandemic that has hit many Western countries, with a total number of cases to date of around 540,000 and a death toll of 9,707. But the latest increase in infections have raised alarm bells, just three months before the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics and amid a slow rollout of vaccination.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said a police officer who worked with the Olympic Torch Relay in western Kagawa Prefecture tested positive for the virus.

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STRONGER BORDERS

With thousands of new cases resulting from highly infectious strains of the virus, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that the government would decide this week to declare a state of emergency for the main regions of the country.

Governors of neighboring Tokyo prefectures, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, will call for the same emergency measures as the capital, the Nikkei newspaper reported. Four western prefectures are also seeking emergency measures, media reported, bringing businesses in large parts of the country to tighter opening hours.

The government plans to impose the curbs from April 25 to May 11, Jiji News Agency reported. It is also expected to weigh heavier than those issued last time in January, such as demands to close department stores and other large retailers.

“We must take stronger and more targeted measures than before, including demands (of stores) to close,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Thursday, quoted by Kyodo news agency.

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Tokyo reported 861 new cases on Thursday, the highest number since January 29 during the third wave of the pandemic and the previous state of emergency. Osaka Prefecture reported 1,167, down slightly from a record high.

The Japanese economy emerged from last year’s severe recession thanks to strong exports.

But analysts expect GDP to decline in the first quarter due to the impact on consumption of the second emergency brakes that were deployed in January and say a second consecutive contraction in the second quarter that would constitute a recession is possible.

“The timing is not right,” as it would affect spending on services during the spring recreation season, said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at the Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute, of the latest restrictions.

Tsunoda cut its second-quarter GDP forecast to a quarter-on-quarter increase of 0.5%, half the pace previously forecast.

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