Photo/Illutration Commuters in Osaka rush to work wearing masks on the morning of Oct. 1 following the lifting of the state of emergency. (Jin Nishioka)

The nation’s largest business lobby on Nov. 8 urged the government to revise and ultimately end its COVID-19 prevention request that employers support a target that would cut commuter numbers by 70 percent.

Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) maintained that if infections surge again, Japan should “use vaccines and antiviral pills and let social and economic activities continue."

The federation also argued that declaring another state of emergency should be avoided as much as possible.

The government has asked businesses to help achieve the 70 percent target by allowing employees to telework among other things, but the business organization proposed that the target be re-evaluated based on “scientific knowledge.”

When the target to reduce commuting covers all businesses, "it disrupts various economic activities,” Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Keidanren, told a news conference held by the business lobby to make proposals on the government’s measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, he said, businesses should continue allowing telework to accept diverse ways of working, adding that many people were happy that they had tried teleworking.

Keidanren pointed out that the numbers of new COVID-19 cases, seriously ill patients and deaths caused by the pandemic have dropped significantly since the percentage of fully vaccinated people hit 50 percent nationwide.

The business lobby added that research on the number of people passing through ticket gates at major train stations in central Tokyo at peak hours showed no link between an increase in the flow of people and how many contracted the virus from one infected individual, known as the “effective reproduction number.”