Could Coronavirus Fears Quiet Cherry Blossom Season in Japan?

There’s a popular saying in Japanese: dumplings over blossoms—meaning substance is better than beauty. But that might sell short the phenomenon of cherry blossom season in Japan. Over the course of a few weeks, cherry trees across the country burst into bloom, painting the country in shades of pink and white. It’s become a national obsession with growing global appeal—and it’s a boon to Japan’s economy.

An estimated 63 million people travel to and within Japan to view the bloom, spending around $2.7 billion (301 billion yen) in the process, according to an analysis from Kansai University.

But there are fears that this year’s cherry blossom season could be quiet because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan’s Olympics minister said the end of May would be an important point in making a decision on whether to hold the Tokyo Games starting on July 24 amid worries the coronavirus could cause the first cancellation since World War Two.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to pass a law to allow him to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus. He abandoned his relatively mild approach to the epidemic with a shock announcement urging schools to shut nationwide.

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In This Story: Japan

Japan is an island country in East Asia located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan comprises an archipelago of 6,852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the country’s five main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan’s capital and largest city.

Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the G7. Japan is a leader in the automotive and electronics industries.

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    Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital, mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens.

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