SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido saw a record 712 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, prompting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to meet Cabinet members in the evening to discuss steps to halt the surge in infections.
Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki said he plans to ask the government to declare a state of emergency in the prefectural capital of Sapporo, allowing him to place stronger restrictions on businesses.
Of the total, 527 infections were confirmed in Sapporo, Asahikawa and Hakodate.
Suga consulted with health minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan's coronavirus response, on Hokkaido as well as other prefectures, including Okayama and Hiroshima, where infections have also continued to increase.
Sapporo is already under a quasi-state of emergency, with restaurants and karaoke establishments asked to close by 8 p.m. and refrain from serving alcohol.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference the government will "make a decision in a timely manner" on whether to declare a full-fledged emergency in Hokkaido.
Six prefectures are currently under a state of emergency -- Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Fukuoka -- with tougher restrictions in place until the end of May.