The number of coronavirus cases reported in Japan in one day has fallen below 100 for the first time since the state of emergency was declared on April 7.
The government says it may lift the measure in some prefectures around May 14.
On Thursday, 96 new cases were reported nationwide, including 23 in Tokyo.
Health minister Kato Katsunobu said fewer cases were confirmed possibly because of a weeklong holiday that ended on Wednesday. He added that the numbers have tended to briefly dip on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi said no new cases were reported in 17 prefectures in a week through Wednesday and indicated that the emergency declaration may be lifted for those prefectures.
The government has also suggested it may lift the declaration in the 13 "special alert" prefectures such as Tokyo and Osaka, depending on the opinions of experts.
Government officials and experts are preparing criteria to ease restrictions for areas where no new cases have been confirmed or areas where cases remain low during a certain period, while also considering the number of cases and hospital preparedness in each area.
They are also taking precautions against a possible increase in cases that may follow the relaxation of the state of emergency.