Yoshihide Suga on February 2 (photo: NHK broadcast)
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced tonight that the State of Emergency in Japan for 10 prefectures, including the Greater Tokyo and Osaka areas, will be extended for another month–until March 7. Tochigi prefecture will see the declaration lifted as cases fail in the region and hospitals aren’t under as much pressure.
The current State of Emergency to combat the rising cases of COVID-19 in Japan’s major metropolitan area was declared on January 7 and has been focused on nightlife activities, with the government asking for bars, karaoke parlors, eateries, movies theaters, and related businesses to close at 8 PM at night. These measures are set to be continued for another month.
To incentivize businesses to stay closed and for people to go to a hospital or stay home when testing positive, the Japanese government is looking at enacting laws to fine those who don’t adhere to requests. Fine for businesses can top 300,000 yen (US$2,860) per day and for individuals 200,000 yen (US$1,906) per offense. Current requests to shorten business hours and stay at home have no penalties applied to them.
Grand Cinema Sunshine in December (photo: Daryl Harding)
Tokyo recorded 556 news cases of coronavirus on February 2 based on 6,477 tests, according to The Japan Times, which is down from 2,447 cases that was recorded on January 7. Hospitals in Greater Tokyo and Greater Osaka, including Kyoto, continue to be under stress, with 70% of COVID-19 allocated beds full and staff shortages, even if cases seem to be declining.
The central government is likely to lift the State of Emergency if the declared area moves into “Stage 2”, which means cases are low and the health system isn’t under as much pressure. The government has indicated that an early lifting of the declaration is possible on a prefecture by prefecture basis.
Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time was delayed a second time due to the State of Emergency
The current State of Emergency has seen the delays of several films, including the final Rebuild of Evangelion anime film, and the delay of major attractions opening, such as Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Osaka.
A senior LDP official, who make up the leading political party in Japan, has indicated that once the State of Emergency is over, the “Go To Travel” and “Go To Eat” campaigns should be restarted to “support the tourism industry”. A study at Kyoto University found that the coronavirus was spread to rural areas in Japan thanks to the program, giving a sharp increase of cases. The resumption of the campaign has been put on hold due to the extension of the State of Emergency.
If you or someone who know is living in Japan, coronavirus-based English resources are available at NHK World Japan.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs the YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.
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