TOKYO: Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday (Sep 11), at the opening of a meeting of a panel of health experts, that he wanted to remove coronavirus-related restrictions on events such as kabuki theatre performances and classical music concerts.
Nishmura added that cases of infection tied to such events have been falling. He also said the government wanted to remove some restrictions on other events, such as rock concerts. The panel was set to debate these measures following Nishimura's remarks.
Nishimura had told reporters on Thursday that the meeting to consider easing of restrictions on large-scale events followed appeals from Japan's top baseball and soccer leagues.
Tokyo's government on Thursday dropped its coronavirus alert by one notch from the highest level as cases continued to trend down, opening the path for a loosening of restrictions on night-time activity.
The capital raised the alert to "red" in July on the advice of experts following a rise in infections. Tokyo's daily cases have gradually declined since hitting a peak of 472 cases in early August, with 276 new cases reported on Thursday.
"Regarding the infection situation, we have lowered one level down to orange from the highest level of red. But, we need to be cautious about increases again," Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at a coronavirus response meeting.
Koike also said Tokyo would lift a measure that shortened hours for restaurants and karaokes from Sep 16, considering the downward trend in the number of new cases.
Earlier in the week, Japan's Olympic minister had said that the Tokyo Olympics should be held in 2021 "at any cost".
"For the Games next year, athletes are continuing to work hard in the environments they find themselves in. So I feel we have to hold it at any cost," Seiko Hashimoto said when asked about remarks by International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates.
"I think Mr Coates felt reassured that the Tokyo Games can be held with further close coordination of efforts," she added.
Coates on Monday told AFP in an exclusive interview that he was confident the delayed Games would open as planned next year, vowing they will be the "Games that conquered COVID".
"It will take place with or without COVID. The Games will start on Jul 23 next year," said Coates, who heads the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games.
The 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the coronavirus, and are now set to open on Jul 23, 2021.