Japan Declares State of Emergency in Tokyo and Three Other Prefectures as Olympics Loom

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNA

Japan issued its third state of emergency declaration for Tokyo and three other urban prefectures. due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, just three months before the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to kick off.

On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the emergency declaration will be in effect from April 25 to May 11 and cover Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures. 

The move, Suga said, is intended to be a “short and intensive” measure to keep people from traveling during Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays from late April through the first week of May.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Japan has recorded almost 10,000 virus-related fatalities and 500,000 positive COVID-19 cases. 

The recent surge is being attributed to a more contagious strain that first emerged in the UK, coupled with residents becoming less cooperative and impatient with ongoing public health measures, according to The Associated Press.

“Perhaps the variant spread faster than we expected,” Suga told reporters Friday. “That is why we are taking these stronger measures, focusing on Golden Week season.”

“I sincerely apologize for causing trouble for many people again,” the prime minister also said.

According to Suga, the new lockdown will have “stricter” measures than the previous two emergency declarations and will include unspecified limitations on gatherings in restaurants, bars, malls, theme parks, theaters, museums and non-essential businesses.

He also mentioned subsidies for businesses that shut their doors during the state of emergency.

Wearing masks, staying home and adhering to social distancing rules remain non-mandatory requests, The Associated Press noted.

Both the governors of Tokyo and Osaka prefectures requested the emergency status earlier this week as the two areas are struggling to get the virus under control, ABC News reported.  

Suga has said the state of emergency will not affect the July 23 start date of the Olympics
 
On Friday, Suga said, “We aim to hold the games while taking strong measures to protect people’s lives from the further spread of infections.”

Japan launched its vaccination campaign in mid-February — months after other major economies — amid concerns over whether or not the effort would result in enough people being vaccinated in time for the Olympics. 

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According to ABC News, less than 1% of Japan’s 126 million people have been vaccinated so far. 

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Source: Equities News

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