Plan for Tokyo state of emergency moves forward
TOKYO — An advisory panel approved on Thursday the Japanese government’s plan for a one-month state of emergency, beginning Friday, for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures in a bid to contain a surge in new coronavirus cases, now running at record levels.
The proposal for an emergency declaration running from Jan. 8 to Feb. 7 was approved at a morning meeting, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. Its restrictions center on measures to combat transmission at bars and restaurants, cited by the government as key risk areas.
Though still less seriously affected by the pandemic than many countries around the world, Japan saw new daily infections top 6,000 for the first time on Wednesday, according to public broadcaster NHK, led by 1,591 positive tests in the capital, Tokyo.
North Korea vows to boost military capabilities
SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would expand military capabilities to better defend the country, state media reported on Thursday, during a rare party congress as the country faces international sanctions and pressure.
The Eighth Party Congress, which began on Tuesday, comes as North Korea faces increasing economic crises caused by a self-imposed border lockdown to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, a series of natural disasters, and international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.
The gathering also comes just days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is due to take office, after unprecedented personal meetings between Kim and outgoing President Donald Trump failed to lead to a breakthrough in denuclearization talks or a loosening of sanctions.
In sessions on Wednesday, Kim discussed policies to make a “tangible turn in improving the people’s living standard,” a day after he admitted that previous economic goals had fallen short, state media reported.
To secure a “peaceful environment” for the people and country, Kim called for “placing state defense capabilities on a much higher level, and put forth goals for realizing it.”