French president’s warning on ‘very sad day’ as UK exits EU  

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 31 January 2020

French president’s warning on ‘very sad day’ as UK exits EU  

  • The French leader claimed that the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign had been based around exaggerations and promises that would never materialize
  • He urged people to remember what lies could lead to in democracies

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday described Britain’s exit from the EU after 47 years as “a very sad day.”
In a televised address a few hours before the UK officially left, he also warned that the move by one of the EU’s key members sent out an “historic alarm signal.”
The French leader claimed that the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign had been based around exaggerations and promises that would never materialize and urged people to remember what lies could lead to in democracies.
Macron said Europe now needed more than ever to face up to China and the US and pointed out that Brexit was “a shock that should make us think.”
During the broadcast, he added that nothing would change for British residents in France and he reassured the French people that their interests would be kept in mind in negotiations between the 27 EU member states and the UK over the next 11 months.
“There will be a simple rule; the partnership that we will build with the United Kingdom won’t be the same we had since decades. It is not possible to be at the same time in and out of the EU.”
However, the president repeated many times that he wanted to maintain very close relations with London. “The French people know what they owe to the British people during World War II,” he said, adding that he would visit Britain soon to keep up bilateral relations.


Japan to ban US, China, Europe travelers as coronavirus spread stokes Tokyo lockdown fears

Updated 15 min 27 sec ago

Japan to ban US, China, Europe travelers as coronavirus spread stokes Tokyo lockdown fears

  • Non-Japanese citizens who have been in any of these areas in the past two weeks will be barred
  • 68 new coronavirus cases were reported in the capital for Sunday, a record daily increase

TOKYO: Japan will step up its efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus by banning the entry of foreign citizens traveling from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe, the Asahi newspaper reported on Monday.
Non-Japanese citizens who have been in any of these areas in the past two weeks will be barred, the paper said. Tokyo may also ban travel to and from some countries in Southeast Asia and Africa, it said, citing unidentified government sources.
At present, Japan only bans entry of citizens from some parts of South Korea, China as well as numerous European nations, with a request for a two-week self-quarantine for those entering from the United States, China and South Korea.
Government officials weren’t immediately available to comment.
While Japanese nationals would not be affected, the travel ban would come as a surge in the number of infections in Japan stokes fears that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may shift from considering to declaring a national state of emergency — a step that could pave the way for a lockdown of its capital Tokyo.
“We’re in a critical stage” on state of emergency deliberations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Monday.
Any lockdown in Japan would look different to mandatory measures imposed in some parts of Europe and the United States: By law, local authorities are only permitted to issue requests for people to stay home that are not legally binding.
But analysts said such a move would inflict huge damage to an economy already on the cusp of recession due to the widening fallout from the pandemic, which has derailed Tokyo’s plans to stage Olympic Games this summer, disrupted supply chains and cooled consumption via event cancelations and shop shut-downs.
“I think the possibility of a lockdown of the Tokyo metropolitan area is rising,” said Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.
“It would be like stopping blood flowing through Japan’s economy,” he said, estimating a lockdown of Tokyo for a month could shrink Japan’s economy by about ¥5.1 trillion ($47 billion) — nearly 1 percent.
Prime Minister Abe has pledged to deploy a huge stimulus package with a size exceeding one compiled during the global financial crisis to combat the outbreak, which had infected nearly 1,900 people in Japan, with 56 deaths, as of Sunday afternoon.
Those numbers exclude 712 cases and 10 deaths from a cruise ship that was moored near Tokyo last month, public broadcaster NHK said.
As fears of a Tokyo lockdown grew, 68 new coronavirus cases were reported in the capital for Sunday, a record daily increase. Bringing the tension home to many was the news that comedian Ken Shimura, a household name in Japan, had become the first national celebrity to die after contracting the virus.