Japan PM says COVID-19 vaccine approval being speeded up

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says vaccine approval is being speeded up to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and he promised to consider declaring a state of emergency.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and the governors of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa had asked the national government Saturday to declare the emergency after the capital saw a daily record of 1,337 cases on New Years Eve.

The declaration carries no legal penalties but works as a strong warning for people to work from home, reduce nonessential outings and social distance, as well as having businesses close early.

Suga told reporters the ruling party will push for a legal change when parliament reconvenes later this month, to allow penalties for violations.

He said vaccine approval is now expected this month instead of February. Vaccinations are expected to begin next month.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)