Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is poised to make a decision on whether or not to implement a new state of emergency in Tokyo on Thursday (January 7), as calls for him to take action against rising coronavirus infection rates grow.
Tokyo recorded 1,278 new cases today, its second-highest daily total.
Last week, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and her counterparts from three neighbouring prefectures asked the Japanese Government to declare a new state of emergency.
Prime Minister Suga continues to mull over the decision and said today, following a meeting of senior officials from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, that a decision on whether to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa would be forthcoming on Thursday.
"What the people want from the Government and the ruling party is a sense of security and hope," Suga said, as reported by Kyodo News.
"We will put the coronavirus response first and work hard at it."
Multiple Japanese media reports claim a state of emergency is likely to come into force either on Thursday or the following day, and last for at least a month.
Japan has reported just shy of 250,000 COVID-19 cases in total, and recorded more than 3,400 deaths.
The 501.V2 variant of the virus - through to be 70 per cent more transmissible - has been detected in Japan, which prompted the nation to shut its border to foreign travellers until at least the end of January, and elite athletes are no longer exempt from the travel restrictions.
The rising case numbers in the Olympic and Paralympic host city, as well as worldwide, have led to fresh fears over whether or not the Games can go ahead later this year, and if they can in what shape.
In an address to mark the start of 2021, Suga vowed to hold "safe and secure" Olympics in 2021 despite rising concern over the infection rate.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also insisted the Games "will be the light at the end of the tunnel", and underlined the organisation's "determination" to stage the Olympics as planned.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics due to follow from August 24 to September 5.
Should they go ahead, they will do so with a series of COVID-19 countermeasures in place.
Former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe declared a state of emergency in Japan in response to the pandemic on April 7 last year - two weeks after the Olympics and Paralympic were postponed until 2021.
It was lifted at the end of May.