Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as COVID-19 spreads

Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as COVID-19 spreads
A woman walks at Nijo fish market in Sapporo, one of the cities where Japan’s domestic travel campaign was paused following sharp rises in coronavirus cases. (Jiji Press/AFP)
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Updated 24 November 2020

Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as COVID-19 spreads

Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as COVID-19 spreads
  • Critics of the program had said it risked spreading the infection from major cities to the countryside

TOKYO: Japan paused its domestic “Go To Travel” promotion campaign in two cities following sharp rises in COVID-19 infections, a government minister said on Tuesday, a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plan to help prop up regional economies.
Critics of the program had said it risked spreading the infection from major cities to the countryside.
“We have agreed to temporarily exclude trips destined for the cities of Sapporo and Hokkaido from the travel campaign,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Tuesday.
“Although we have tried to balance both economic revitalization as well as virus containment, we have made this decision at the local governors’ request,” Nishimura told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Suga and Tourism Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba.
Akaba said the two cities would initially be excluded until Dec. 15, during which time no new reservations could be made under the program, which offers discounts on fares and hotels.
Suga said on Saturday the government would suspend new reservations under the program for trips to hard-hit areas.
The western city of Osaka reported 171 new cases on Monday after seeing a record 286 cases the previous day, a city official said.
Sapporo in the north reported 140 daily cases on Monday, below a record 197 cases reported on Thursday last week, a city official said.
The capital of Tokyo has seen new daily infections soar past 500 and serious cases reached 51 on Tuesday, the most since a state of emergency was lifted in May.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters that there was a rise in infections among older residents, including cases where people had contracted the virus while eating out and brought it home to their relatives.


China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
Updated 4 min 42 sec ago

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace

China: US military in South China Sea not good for peace
  • China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea

BEIJING: The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to “flex its muscles” and this is not good for peace, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a US aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.
The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by US military activity there.
The US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, just days after Joe Biden became US president.
“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters, responding to the US mission.
“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.”
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.
China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Zhao referred questions to the defense ministry.
He reiterated China’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the “one China” principle.
Biden’s new administration says the US commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid.”
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island’s most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China’s anger.