Japan posted a record 438 daily COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday in the midst of the eighth wave of infections.
The number exceeded the previous high of 371 daily deaths marked last Friday.
Japan reported either double digits or around 100-200 COVID-19 deaths a day in November. But the daily figure rose to the 200- to 300-level in December.
By prefecture, Hokkaido reported 38 deaths, followed by 33 in Kanagawa and 26 in Saitama.
Newly confirmed infections in Japan totaled 208,235 on Tuesday, up about 18,000 from a week earlier.
The number of new infections came to 22,063 in Tokyo, 15,443 in Aichi Prefecture and 13,962 in Osaka Prefecture.
The number of patients with severe symptoms stood at 582 in Japan, up 19 from Monday, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Meanwhile, the government is considering changing the category of COVID-19 under infection laws to that for such illnesses as influenza next spring, government sources said Tuesday.
If changed to the lower severity level, there would be no need to isolate patients or restrict close contacts from going outside.