Japan is preparing to expand a coronavirus state of emergency to the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo by the end of the week, Jiji news agency reported on Monday, citing unidentified government sources.
The three prefectures on Saturday asked the government to impose a state of emergency, which is already in place in Tokyo and surrounding regions, to include them in an effort to contain the latest spread of the coronavirus.
Separately, the governor of the central prefecture of Aichi said he and authorities in the neighbouring prefecture of Gifu aimed to ask the government as early as Tuesday to expand the state of emergency to their areas.
"Stronger restrictive measures as well as more decisive changes in our citizens' behaviour - that's what I am seeking," the Aichi governor, Hideaki Omura, told media.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government on Thursday declared a limited state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three neighbouring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba to stem the spread of infections.
Restrictions under the one-month emergency to Feb. 7 centre on combating transmission in bars and restaurants, which the government says are main risk areas.
The new curbs are narrower in scope than those imposed in April under an emergency that ran to late May. At that time, the curbs were nationwide and schools and non-essential businesses were mostly shuttered. This time, schools are not being closed.
Japan has seen coronavirus cases total around 289,000, with 4,067 deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK. Since the outset of the pandemic it has tried to balance controlling the spread of the virus while limiting damage to the world's third-biggest economy.
Under a law revised in March to cover the coronavirus, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a grave danger to lives and if its rapid spread threatens serious economic damage.
That gives local authorities legal basis to ask residents and businesses to restrict movements and work.