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Doraemon, Shimajirō Anime Films Delayed Due to COVID-19 Coronavirus as Japan Asks Schools to Close Until April

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Prime minister to ask all elementary, middle, high schools to close through spring break

The official website for the 2020 Doraemon film Eiga Doraemon: Nobita no Shin Kyōryū (Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's New Dinosaur) announced on Thursday that the film's theatrical release in Japan has been postponed from March 6 due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. The announcement noted that staff took into account the current status of COVID-19 in Japan, as well as measures prescribed by the office in charge of dealing with the new disease in Japan.

The film's official website will announce a new release date after it is decided. In addition, a stage greeting event set to mark the film's opening at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on March 7 has been canceled. The new film is the franchise's 40th, and it marks the 50th anniversary of the original manga.

The official website for Benesse Corporation's Shimajirō anime franchise announced on Thursday that the theatrical opening of the Shimajirō to Sora Tobu Fune (Shimajirō and the Flying Ship) 3D CG anime film has been postponed from February 28 due to concerns about COVID-19. The staff made the decision over concerns of the spread of the disease after considering policies proposed by the Japanese government. The website will announce a new release date in the future. The film is billed as the franchise's first 3D CG anime film.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced on Thursday that the government will ask all elementary, junior high, and high schools in Japan close from March 2 until the end of students' regular spring break, which is typically early April. The request does not apply to daycare centers or after-school facilities for children in elementary school.

The announcement came after 15 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Hokkaido on Thursday evening. A Hokkaido man in his 80s, described as "more susceptible to respiratory problems compared to healthy people," died from the virus on Wednesday. NHK and The Japan Times reported on Thursday that the number of cases of the new coronavirus in Japan now exceeds 200. The news outlets reported that The Diamond Princess, a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, additionally has more than 700 infected passengers. NHK reported that eight people in Japan have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday evening. The most recent report from The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday had noted one death in Japan proper, plus three from the cruise ship.

NHK also reported on Thursday that more countries and regions have banned entry of travelers from Japan or enacted new restrictions. The Japanese government stated that Micronesia, Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, and Comoros are restricting entry of travelers from every country and territory affected by the virus. Iraq and Israel announced they are restricting entry of travelers from affected areas including Japan.

The first reported cases of the COVD-19 disease occurred in Wuhan, China in December, and then began to spread in varying rates and intensities across many parts of the globe through incubation in human hosts. The WHO declared a world health emergency on January 30. As of Wednesday, the WHO reported that there are 81,109 infected individuals worldwide, with 78,191 of them in China and 164 official cases in Japan proper. 2,718 individuals have died from the disease in China.

Japan announced on Wednesday that it will ban the entry of foreign nationals who visited the South Korean city of Daegu and neighboring county of Cheongdo in North Gyeongsang province. It has already banned the entry of foreign nationals from two Chinese provinces, Hubei and Zhejiang.

During a government task force meeting on Wednesday afternoon, prime minister Abe reiterated the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's proposal last week to organizers to cancel, delay, or downscale their events until mid-March, as these next few weeks are a critical period for containing the outbreak. The proposal is a non-binding request.

Sources: Eiga Doraemon: Nobita no Shin Kyōryū film's website, Shimajirō franchise's website, NHK (link 2), The Japan Times, Comic Natalie (link 2)

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