The official declaration of the state of emergency would likely come as soon as Tuesday, Shinzo Abe told reporters, as the country grapples with a recent spike in coronavirus cases, especially in the capital Tokyo.
Beijing has encouraged factories to increase the production of medical supplies as pandemic kills over 65,000 globally and parts of the world face protective equipment shortage.
Some scientists suspect wild animals sold in a market were the source of the coronavirus pandemic, that has killed more than 48,000 lives worldwide so far, while others argue it was in circulation elsewhere in Wuhan even earlier.
The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. It has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday's "handover ceremony" merely symbolic.
Mainland China announced 36 new cases in the country after it managed to take the spread of pandemic under control with strict measures. China also reported the daily asymptomatic cases for the very first time.
Asian stocks fell following a sell-off on Wall Street, with investor confidence continuing to be rattled by the coronavirus crisis.
As China is looking to lift restrictions in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, critics who dispute the government's official coronavirus statistics worry that a second wave of infections may be around the corner.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the international community must remain united in urging North Korea to return to nuclear talks and in continuing to apply pressure on its nuclear and missile programs.
Last week, the IOC and Japanese organisers postponed the Olympics until 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Beijing has sought to stamp out the risk of a second wave of infections by shutting its borders to foreign travellers and cutting international flights.
The string of weapons drills come as a prolonged hiatus in disarmament talks with the United States drags on, and despite recent overtures from Washington offering help to contain the pandemic.
Tokyo Governor's plea for the tens of millions of people in the capital and surrounding regions to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings until April 12, and particularly this weekend, followed a surge in coronavirus infections this week.
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