Men wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus take a rest in Tokyo Thursday, May 14, 2020. Japan is still under a coronavirus state of emergency which was extended until the end of May though there have been no hard lockdowns. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that the world economy is facing a “once-in-a-century crisis.”

He made the remark while lifting a national coronavirus emergency except for Tokyo and seven other prefectures that remain at high risk. Abe declared a monthlong emergency in parts of Japan, including Tokyo, on April 7. He later expanded that move to nationwide and extended through May 31.

The state of emergency allows local leaders to legally take social distancing and other measures, such as requests for nonessential business closures, though they carry no penalties if violated.

The number of new cases has significantly decreased in Japan. Abe urged a slow return to social and economic activity to avoid triggering a resurgence of the spread of the infections.

“The spread of global infection is never-ending. The world economy is facing a once-in-a-century crisis and is not even comparable to the Lehman shock,” Abe said, referring to the giant investment bank and the financial crisis of 2008.

He added that even the world’s largest corporations are suffering significant damage and that it is “absolutely necessary to prevent chain bankruptcy.”


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