Only around 37 percent of firms in Japanese prefectures under the current state of emergency have met the government's target of cutting commuters by 70 percent or more to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, a business lobby survey showed Friday.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the government's coronavirus response, held a remote meeting with leaders of the country's largest business lobby Keidanren, which released the survey, and other major business bodies, and requested they push members to promote teleworking to help meet the target.



Nishimura said the number of people commuting decreased by 40 percent in the Tokyo metropolitan area based on calculations of train passengers and 30 percent in prefectures in western Japan. He emphasized the importance of meeting the government's target so the state of emergency, scheduled to expire Feb. 7, will not have to be extended longer than necessary.

Nobuyuki Koga, who chairs the board of councillors of Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation, said that while many large businesses have been able to cut the number of commuters, it is proving to be more of a challenge for smaller firms.

The Keidanren survey, which received valid responses from about 500 companies in the 11 prefectures under the state of emergency, also found that the number of people commuting to work was reduced by 65 percent or around 870,000. The figure did not include those considered essential workers.

Tokyo confirmed Friday 868 new daily infection cases, with the count showing a downward trend in recent days. The capital has seen four-digit daily increases on many days this month, logging a record 2,447 new cases on Jan. 7.

Nationwide, daily cases topped 3,500, bringing the country's cumulative total to nearly 385,000.

In a press conference Friday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the figures have not shown a "noticeable change" in the three weeks since the emergency was declared for the capital and three adjacent prefectures. The declaration by the central government was later expanded to cover 11 of Japan's 47 prefectures.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has set Feb. 7 as the end date of the state of emergency, but government and ruling party sources say it will likely be extended, with one option being until the end of February.