TOKYO, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Japan is to step up coronavirus restrictions in three regions that host U.S. military bases to stem a COVID-19 surge that some officials have said the bases have helped fuel.

The restrictions, which authorities call “priority measures”, are being brought back for the first time since September, when Japan lifted emergency controls that had prevailed across the country for most of last year.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a meeting the measures, which will allow steps such as limiting the operating hours of restaurants and bars, were needed to rein in surging cases.

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The infectious Omicron variant has been found in about 80% of Japanese prefectures. Total new infections

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