Three prefectures asked the central government on Tuesday to lift the state of emergency in their areas this weekend over the coronavirus pandemic ahead of its schedule end date on March 7, Osaka Gov Hirofumi Yoshimura said.
The governors of Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo made a joint request to economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is leading the country's response to the pandemic, citing improvements in the number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients and the slowing pace of infections.
The state of emergency, Japan's second over the pandemic, was initially declared on Jan 7 for one month, covering Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.
On Jan 13, it was expanded to seven other prefectures including the three western areas and later extended through March 7 for 10 of the 11 prefectures.
Under the virus emergency, people are asked to refrain from unnecessary outings and restaurants and bars to close early.
The three prefectures have cited improvements in the number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients and the slowing pace of infections.
Kyoto Gov Takatoshi Nishiwaki has said that even if the state of emergency is lifted, the prefecture would continue to ask restaurants and bars to shorten business hours to prevent a resurgence of infections.
The governor of another prefecture, Aichi in central Japan, said he has already made a similar request with the central government.
Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike is cautious about lifting the emergency declaration in the capital, which is still seeing a "severe" infection situation.
Koike also said she is planning to hold an online meeting with the governors of the three nearby prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.© KYODO