Japan PM considers state of emergency for Tokyo

A month into its third coronavirus wave, Tokyo may soon return to a state of emergency this week, throwing more doubt on whether Japan can host the Olympic Games this year.

That's according to Japanese leader Yoshihide Suga on Monday, as the country faces record numbers of new cases.

"The number of people going out in the Tokyo area didn't go down in December. Neither did the number of cases over the New Year holiday. I am very concerned with rising case numbers and felt the need to send out a stronger message."

Japan saw 4,500 cases on December 31 - a record for the country and almost half were in the Greater Tokyo area.

While it's seen nearly a quarter of a million cases, Japan's never gone under a rigid lockdown seen elsewhere.

Instead, the prime minister before Suga, Shinzo Abe, declared a 'state of emergency' last spring that shut down schools and non-essential businesses for over a month. Since then, Japan's largely relied on voluntary closings to combat the virus.

It's uncertain what a new emergency declaration would look like. Suga has so far resisted any drastic steps to restrict economic activity.

Although case numbers in Japan are low relative to countries in the West, Suga also faces the challenge of hosting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

On Monday he again pledged to host the Games and said vaccines will likely be rolled out by the end of February.