Tokyo cannot bear cost of business closures as COVID-19 cases surge

Nikkei -- Jul 30
Gov. Yuriko Koike said Wednesday asking restaurants and shops to close will be a "huge burden" for Tokyo's finances as the city faces a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Koike made the remarks in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. Tokyo reported another 250 new infections on Wednesday, the 21st consecutive day that its daily count has reached above 100. Koike also said that Tokyo is mulling a new medical facility to deal solely with the resurgence of cases.

On April 11, shortly after the national government declared a state of emergency, Tokyo asked restaurants and shops to close and subsidized those that followed the guidance. It fully lifted the request on June 19.

"At first, we did not know much about the virus and groped in the dark [over how to curb the spread of the epidemic]," said Koike. "Due to the request, many shop owners faced financial difficulties and we had to provide subsidies twice."

Those subsidies were a financial drain on the metropolitan government that had already spent around 95% of its 935 billion yen ($8.9 billion) reserves set aside for emergencies.

Asking businesses to close again will be a financial drain on Tokyo, Gov. Koike said on Wednesday. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

Koike said asking businesses citywide to close again will lead to "a huge financial burden," if Tokyo had to offer subsidies.

"We need a more strategic approach," Koike said. This could mean that the Tokyo government may request specific sectors or areas to close, if the need arises.

- Nikkei