Japan's central, local governments mark New Year

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Japan's central, local governments mark New Year

TokYO Kyodo Japan's central and local governments, along with many businesses, marked the year's first day of work Wednesday, as the country refrained from implementing travel restrictions despite a rise in COVID 19 cases.

On Tuesday, the daily COVID 19 figures stood at around 90,000, with Japan strengthening its entry restrictions for travelers from China, which has seen a surge in cases due to the abandonment of its strict zero-COVID policy.

A Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare official said that everyone is exhausted from working on coronaviruses for about three years on top of usual work. I hope that it will be a year in which we can focus on medium to long-term policies like health care, pensions and the declining birthrate. Commuters around JR Tokyo Station were bundled up in scarves and wearing gloves as they hunched up against the cold.

Last year, there were a lot of dark topics, said Chiyono Yamamoto, who came into work on the Shinkansen bullet train from Yokohama after spending the year-end and New Year holidays with her family.

The 64 year-old said that they hope this year is one with more positive news.

The Nakamise shopping street next to Senso-ji temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district was crowded with people visiting to pray for the New Year.

Masahiko Takaoka, who works at a food shop on the street, said that the number of people going out has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, but they're mostly young Japanese people.

I hope more foreign tourists will come, but I'm afraid of the coronaviruses, said Takaoka, 65.

This year, Japan will host the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May, with a focus on whether countries will be able to tackle issues such as nuclear disarmament and high inflation due to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The prefectural government workers of Hiroshima have continued preparations for the summit.

Takeshi Yamane, secretary general of a public and private sector group that supports the G -- 7 summit in Hiroshima, said he hopes that the summit participants will hold discussions that could lead to nuclear abolition in the future. In northeastern Japan, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., gave a New Year address to the company's employees at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

He said we will improve safety and quality within multiple operations in our company, and carry out our responsibility for Fukushima.