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1. Resist the blossom
The government officially declared Thursday that the coronavirus state of emergency currently imposed on Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures will be lifted Monday. However, officials are urging the public to stay vigilant to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, reports Satoshi Sugiyama.
The emergency’s effectiveness seems to have reached its limit as the number of new cases in the region stubbornly refuses to decline. Now, toasty weather and blooming cherry blossoms are just a couple of the forgotten pleasures that may entice people to let their guard down, writes Ryusei Takahashi.
Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa are planning to ask dining establishments to close at 9 p.m. rather than 8 through at least the end of March. On Thursday, the capital ordered 27 defiant restaurants and bars to shorten their hours or face fines of up to ¥300,000, the first such orders under a recently revised law.
The same day, the health ministry said the government plans to include people with severe mental illnesses or disabilities in a priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations. With the addition of an extra 2.1 million people, the number of those with underlying conditions on the list will total 10.3 million.
2. When the chips are down
Honda says it will suspend some production in the U.S. and Canada next week as the pandemic, a chip shortage and winter weather batter its supply chain. Toyota, too, may have to idle some lines, shifts or even entire plants as the cold front disrupts supplies of some products.
At least Toyota doesn’t have a chip shortage, unlike its competitors. The firm pioneered the just-in-time manufacturing strategy. However, its decision to stockpile chips, which have become key components in cars, goes back a decade to the Fukushima disaster, Bloomberg reports.
Toyota is also looking to the future, its vision of which is taking shape at the foot of Mount Fuji. That is where the firm just began building a new city where it can play with all its toys. Woven City will be powered by solar and hydrogen fuel cells much like the ones in its new Mirai vehicles. The new cell technology will go on sale to power companies and other sectors this spring.