Many of Japan's prefectural governors have urged the central government to extend the nationwide state of emergency due to end on May 6 to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

In an online meeting of the National Governors' Association on Wednesday, however, some prefectural chiefs were against a uniform extension of emergency steps aimed at slowing the spread the virus, expressing concern over the impact of keeping many businesses closed for so long.

After declaring the state of emergency for Tokyo and six other densely populated prefectures on April 7, Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe expanded it to the entire nation on April 16.

The emergency declaration gives prefectural governors the power to enforce preventive steps and allows them to call for school and business closures, though there are no legal penalties for noncompliance.

Abe indicated at a parliamentary meeting Wednesday that conditions have not been met for the government to lift the nationwide state of emergency, in place through the last day of the country's Golden Week holidays.

(Photo taken on April 29, 2020, in Tokyo shows Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (R) taking part in a videoconference with other governors across Japan to discuss measures against the coronavirus pandemic.)

"With regard to whether we will be able to end the state of emergency on May 6, I must say we continue to face difficult situations," Abe said, adding he will consult a panel of experts before making his decision.

The National Governors' Association called on the government to clarify conditions for lifting the state of emergency, as municipalities are divided on when to reopen schools and the rate of new infections varies among prefectures.

Governors mostly expressed a cautious view about the idea of pushing back the start of the academic year to September from April.

On Wednesday, 205 new cases of coronavirus infections were confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of people infected to around 14,800, of whom about 450 have died.

In Tokyo alone, 47 cases were newly confirmed Wednesday and nine infected patients died the same day. The capital continues to see fluctuations in the daily number of new cases, having seen as many as over 200 in mid-April.

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