Japan: imminent state of emergency in the face of Covid-19

Japan: imminent state of emergency in the face of Covid-19

Tokyo | The Japanese government was preparing to declare a new state of emergency in Tokyo and its suburbs in the face of the pandemic on Thursday, but its small scale despite the contamination records recorded in the country raised fears of limited results.

This state of emergency, much less restrictive than that applied in April-May 2020 throughout the Archipelago, should initially concern the capital and three adjacent regions for one month. But at least one additional region, that of Aichi (center), plans to ask to join the device.

Greater Tokyo, home to nearly 37 million people, or 30% of the Japanese population, represents a significant proportion of the daily number of cases currently reported nationally.

An official announcement from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was expected early Thursday evening. But Yasutoshi Nishimura, his minister responsible for the fight against Covid-19, unveiled on Thursday morning the scope of the measures envisaged, recalling that the health system was “in critical condition” in Tokyo.

The government should call on restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol after 7:00 p.m. and close at 8:00 p.m., and ask residents to avoid unnecessary evening outings.

Companies will be encouraged to favor teleworking for their employees, with the objective of reducing commuting by 70%.

On the other hand, schools should not be called upon to close, and public events could take place but with a number of spectators reduced by 50% and a maximum number of 5,000 people.

Japan, relatively spared so far by the pandemic compared to other countries, with some 3,700 deaths and 252,000 officially recorded cases since January 2020, is currently experiencing a worrying third wave.

The country recorded 6,001 new daily cases on Wednesday, including 1,591 in Tokyo, two new records.

Faced with the gravity of the situation, several medical experts felt that stronger measures and over a longer time were necessary.

But Mr. Suga, increasingly criticized for his management of the health crisis, “is more inclined to (support, editor’s note) economic recovery,” economist Masamichi Adachi of UBS Securities told AFP on Thursday.

The first state of emergency in Japan last year initially targeted greater Tokyo before being gradually extended to the whole country.

He had temporarily stemmed the pandemic, but the number of cases was much lower than currently, and its measures more draconian, with calls for the total closure of shops, restaurants, cinemas and sports halls, among others.

Japanese law, however, does not provide for sanctions for those who do not comply with government instructions, even under a state of emergency.

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