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Japan mulls emergency extension as groups report setbacks

March 3 (UPI) — Japanese government officials agree over a potential extension of a COVID-19 state of emergency, as cases continue to rise in areas like Tokyo.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the emergency declaration for the country’s capital should be extended by about two weeks. Governors in the metropolitan area support the extension, Kyodo News reported.

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who has said the Summer Olympics rescheduled for 2021 are to go ahead as planned, is one of several politicians who approve of the extension, the report said.

Restrictions in Tokyo affect restaurants and bars, which are required to close by 8 p.m. Large gatherings are limited to 5,000 people.

Consumer spending has been adversely affected during COVID-19. On Tuesday, Japan reported 888 new cases and more than 435,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

Japan’s yakuza, an organized crime syndicate known for illicit businesses, has also been impacted.

Daily Shincho reported last month the centuries-old crime ring known for operating brothels and drug trafficking are suffering setbacks due to the cancellation of public events and less foot traffic to temples and shrines.

According to Sora News 24, the yakuza derive revenue from legal sources, such as temporary food stalls that operate only during holidays.

A yakuza leader interviewed by Daily Shincho said income earned during New Year’s has tumbled.

“Compared to previous years, our profits are only one-third of what we usually make,” the source said. “The number of operating food stalls has shrunk because of government anti-COVID-19 measures, and in addition to that, the crowds visiting shrines have [dwindled in number].”

Other cancellations, including an annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo’s Ueno Park in 2021, is expected to hit the organization.

Sky News reported last year that yakuza gangs may have stepped up coronavirus-related fraud with scam phone calls.

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