The Daily Manila Shimbun


Abe urges understanding for school closure request

February 28, 2020

Tokyo--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought public understanding on Friday for his request to close all elementary, junior high and high schools, saying that it is a "crucial period" to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

"Now is truly a crucial period to contain the spread of the outbreak," Abe said during a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting.

"We will make decisions on and execute necessary measures without hesitation, putting the protection of citizens' lives and health above everything else," he added at the start of the meeting.

The comments came after Abe requested on Thursday an emergency nationwide closure of schools, including special schools for children with disabilities, from Monday until the start of the spring break.

Shu Watanabe, a lawmaker of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, said during the meeting that the measure may force guardians of school students to take time off work to care for their children. "Will the government take responsibility for firings or reductions in income?" he asked.

The prime minister responded by saying that "the government will handle responsibly many issues."

He said that the government plans to ask economic groups to make it easier for workers to take regular paid leave, and that it will also make consideration for small companies that cannot implement such steps.

Abe also said he is considering support measures for nonregular workers who cannot take paid leave, such as part-time workers. Jiji Press