Japan to end state of emergency on Thursday

Japan will finally lift its coronavirus state of emergency in all regions on Thursday (September 30), for the first time in nearly six months.

It comes as the number of new cases and deaths falls and the strain on the medical system eases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.

Even though daily cases have fallen nationwide from more than 25,000 last month to around 1,100 on Monday (September 27), the opening will still be gradual.

Some curbs on eateries and large-scale events will remain for about a month to prevent a resurgence.

Officials said that a ban on serving alcohol would be lifted everywhere unless local governors objected.

Japan's largely avoided explosive outbreaks seen in countries like the United States and India, but the infectious Delta variant sparked a fifth wave of COVID-19 in Japan that drove infections to record levels last month.

The emergency will be lifted shortly after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) picks its new chief, who'll replace Suga as premier.

Suga decided not to run in the election after his approval ratings tanked.

Initially criticized for its sluggish vaccination rollout, now nearly 60% of Japan's population is fully vaccinated and the government has said all those who want shots will have had them by November.

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