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Japan gov't sorry for excluding Tokyo from travel subsidy program but offers no refunds

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga holds a press conference on the morning of July 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Referring to the Japanese government's decision to exclude travel to and from Tokyo from its "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign, designed to combat the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga apologized to those who had already made travel plans at a press conference held on July 17.

"We made the decision amid the reality that the number of novel coronavirus cases had been rising (in Tokyo) shortly before the launch of the (travel subsidy) program," Suga said. "We are deeply sorry."

As for cancellation fees that those with reservations to or out of Tokyo may be charged, Suga said, "We will not take any specific steps, and leave that up to travel agencies. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will provide careful explanations to the tourism industry."

As for why travel to and out of Tokyo was excluded from the subsidy program, Suga explained to reporters, "Objectively speaking, the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in Tokyo sticks out, and comprises about half the number of people infected nationwide. Considering that, and the recommendations of a panel of infectious disease experts, we decided to exclude travel in and out of Tokyo (from the program)."

However, Suga also said, "Experts have told us that once infections settle down in Tokyo, it won't be a problem to implement the program for Tokyo as well. We will closely monitor the situation of infections in Tokyo."

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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