Shinzō Abe has lifted the state of emergency in Japan ©Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has lifted the country's state of emergency after a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Tokyo 2020 host nation.

Japan declared the state of emergency on April 16 after fearing a second wave of infection from the virus, and further extended it in early May.

Its introduction came a week after Tokyo, Osaka and five other urban areas had restrictions placed on them from April 7.

Many areas of the nation had previously seen the restrictions lifted, but now the remaining five prefectures will join them.

These are the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, its neighbouring areas of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama and the northern island of Hokkaido.

The nation has seen a fall in confirmed cases over the past month, recording its lowest number of new daily cases yesterday since February 29 with 14.

It has also seen a fall in the number of active cases, reaching a peak of 11,443 on April 28 with the number now down to 2,317.

However, the city and host of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo, saw a return to double figures for confirmed cases in a day, suggesting that the threat of infection is still there.

Tokyo, which has been under a state of emergency since April 7, will now have looser restrictions ©Getty Images
Tokyo, which has been under a state of emergency since April 7, will now have looser restrictions ©Getty Images

"We had very stringent criteria for lifting the state of emergency," Abe said in a televised press conference today.

"We have judged that we have met this criteria.

"Today we will lift the state of emergency nationwide."

Economic Revitalisation Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a panel today, according to Kyodo News, that the state of emergency is "no longer necessary in all prefectures".

Nishimura had suggested yesterday that this would be the announcement made with confirmed cases falling.

The day before Japan entered its state of emergency the country had 741 confirmed cases in a single day – the second highest daily rate after 743 new cases were reported on April 11.

There will still be some restrictions put in place by the Government, with citizens asked not to cross prefectural borders until the end of the month.

The first phase of lifting restrictions will see museums and libraries reopen, while restaurants will be open during the day, closing at 10pm which is two hours later than the state of emergency rules.

A second phase could start at the end of the month, which sources suggest could see shops and cinemas reopen.

However, places like gyms, karaoke bars and music venues will still be closed.

To date, there have been more than 16,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan, resulting in the deaths of 820 people.

The outbreak caused the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics until next year.

However, doubts remain about the rearranged Games taking place if COVID-19 remains prevalent.