Japanese prefectural governors on Saturday asked the central government to increase the amount of extraordinary grants for local governments to fund various measures against the coronavirus pandemic.
With the number of infections resurging in Japan, the National Governors' Association filed the request to increase the grants, which now total 3 trillion yen ($28 billion), in an urgent proposal it adopted at an online meeting on the coronavirus response.
The grants are used to fund measures such as the improvement of medical capacity and aid for bars, restaurants and other businesses which suspend operations in cooperation with local governments' request to do so, as part of efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
Thirty-six of the 47 governors who participated in the meeting also exchanged views on six types of data to assess the spread of infections shown by a government advisory panel the previous day, including hospital bed occupancy rates, the percentage of people testing positive, and the weekly tally of newly reported infections per 100,000 people.
The other three are the number of coronavirus patients per 100,000 people, the weekly increase in infections and the percentage of cases in which infection routes are not known.
Japan's 47 prefectural governments have been advised to utilize the data in deciding whether to beef up local responses.
"Our opinions are reflected (in the six key indicators)," Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi, who serves as president of the association, said in the video conference.
In the proposal, the governors also called for a revision to the special law for combating the coronavirus so that authorities can impose penalties on business operators that fail to cooperate with business-suspension requests by local governments.
Separately, the governors advised that people reconsider making trips during the Bon summer holiday season around the middle of August amid concern that the movement of people will spread the virus further.
At the same time, however, they urged people to take sufficient anti-infection measures such as washing hands frequently and avoiding dining out in large numbers in case they need to make the trips.
In Japan, many people return to their hometowns to see their families, relatives and friends in the Bon period.
"This summer is different from usual summers," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said, alluding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Koike called on the public to make "online homecomings" to see their families online or talk over the phone.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said he is asking people to think twice about visiting the southernmost island prefecture because the number of infections has been surging there.
The association is planning to release via its website opinions of all 47 governors on homecomings during the Bon period.