Nikkei: Japan to Extend COVID-19 State of Emergency
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Nikkei reported on Wednesday that Japan's government is planning to extend the nationwide state of emergency due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The government will hold an expert meeting on Friday to discuss a proposal to urge the public to stay home for about one more month. The state of emergency is currently scheduled to end on May 6.
The proposal may extend the state of emergency to the end of May or June 7. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is planning to finalize details as early as Monday. Public transportation and essential stores such as supermarkets would continue to remain open. Residents would still be able to go to the hospital, shop for necessities, and take walks.
The Friday meeting will discuss how the new coronavirus is spreading, whether the public has reduced contact and changed its behavior, and the state of Japan's health care system. A government official told Nikkei, "We will have a hard time lifting the state of emergency unless we can bring new infections down to 20 or 30 people."
The report noted that COVID-19 has yet to subside in Japan, and areas of Japan such as Tokyo are struggling to slow the disease's spread. Nikkei stated that Japan had 13,944 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 435 deaths as of 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
NHK reported on Sunday that the Japanese government may not fully lift the state of emergency on May 6. Medical experts noted that the rate of new infections has not slowed as much as they expected. Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi added that the government must decide whether or not to lift the state of emergency well in advance of May 6, to allow schools and companies to prepare.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike asked schools to remain closed through at least May 8. May 6 marks the end of Japan's Golden Week string of holidays in 2020, but May 7 and May 8 fall on Thursday and Friday this year. Aichi and Ibaraki prefectures plan to keep high schools closed (and request elementary and junior high schools to follow suit) until the end of May.
Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka from April 7 to May 6. Kyoto Governor Takatoshi Nishiwaki asked the Japanese government on April 10 to add Kyoto to the state of emergency. Aichi Governor Hideaki Ōmura similarly asked the Japanese government on April 16 to add his prefecture to the list, and then independently declared a state of emergency on April 17. Hokkaido had lifted its own three-week state of emergency on March 19, only to declare a second state of emergency on April 12.
Abe announced on April 16 that the national government is expanding the state of emergency nationwide until May 6. As required by the newly enacted law that allowed for this declaration, Abe met with the government's COVID-19 task force of experts before formally announcing the expansion.