- （ここでは）解除する（後出 lift も同意）
- (state of) emergency
- in place
- pave the way for ～
- 再開（後出 resume は再開する）
- government-commissioned panel
- (large) outbreak
- stimulus package
- verbal greeting
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on May 25 lifted the state of emergency that had remained in place for Tokyo and four other prefectures, paving the way for the resumption of social and economic activity across the nation.
Experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the lifting of the emergency in Tokyo, neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, and in Hokkaido.
Japan, with about 16,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 860 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the U.S. and Europe despite its softer restrictions.
"We were able to bring the outbreak nearly under control in just a month and a half in a uniquely Japanese way," Abe said. He also unveiled a new stimulus package worth about 100 trillion yen to support companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe first declared the state of emergency on April 7 in seven prefectures including Tokyo, and expanded it to the entire nation nine days later. People were asked to stay at home and non-essential businesses were requested to halt or reduce operations. On May 14, the measures were lifted across most of Japan.
Abe said the lifting of the state of emergency does not mean the end of the outbreak. He said the goal is to balance preventive measures and the economy until vaccines and effective drugs become available. "We need a new approach to resume our daily social and economic activity," he said.
Companies and schools were waiting for the lifting. Matsuya Ginza department store, a landmark in the posh Tokyo shopping district, partially resumed operations on May 25 after being closed for seven weeks. Sales staff wearing plastic face shields welcomed customers with bows but no verbal greetings under new guidelines.
In the Fukuoka prefectural town of Kasuya, six elementary and junior high schools resumed classes on May 25, with all students and teachers wearing face shields. At Kasuya Junior High School, a teacher told students, "This is a first for us as teachers, too, and there is some confusion, but let's do our best."
(Compiled from AP and Mainichi reports)
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