The economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, shrinking at a revised annual rate of 3.9% in January-March, as COVID-related restrictions crimped domestic demand. Data due to be disclosed next month are likely to show the contraction continued into the second quarter.
Worries are growing about coronavirus infections surging, as tens of thousands of athletes, team officials and other dignitaries enter the country for the Tokyo Olympics, opening this week.
About 15,000 Japanese have died so far and just over a fifth of the population is fully vaccinated. Dozens of people affiliated with the Games have already tested positive for the virus.
Japan has never had a lockdown, but parts of the nation, including Tokyo, have been under a government “state of emergency” much of the year, with restaurants and bars closing early to minimize crowds gathering.
The government expects the economy to come roaring back as the vaccine rollout becomes more widespread by the end of this year.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Vehicles wait to be exported at a port in Kawasaki, near Tokyo in August 2020. Japan’s exports in June jumped 48.6% from the year before, marking the fourth straight month of growth, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (Kyodo News via AP)