Japan expands state of emergency, public cools to Olympics

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 13, 2021

Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures are now in the middle of a state of emergency, but the restrictions are dependent on voluntary compliance. Japan's coronavirus cases topped 300,000 on Wednesday while the death toll reached 4,187, NHK said.

"Beginning with Osaka, we'll look at the situation in prefectures where the situation is serious and, after consulting experts, promptly decide on (whether to declare) a state of emergency", Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government spokesperson, told reporters after the meeting.

Along with Tokyo, which came under a state of emergency last week, a total of 11 prefectures covering more than half of the country's population and around 60 per cent of its economy will remain under the measure through February 7, Kyodo News reported. Under the second state of emergency, declared nine months after the first, some service providers such as department stores and some entertainment facilities are also likely to cut their operating hours.

Japan was set to restart its rugby season this week, after last year's Top League season was cancelled entirely because of the pandemic.

Suga has faced criticism for not taking strong enough government action earlier in the outbreak.

Nagahama said in a report his estimate also reflects the impact of the suspension since December 28 of the "Go To Travel" campaign, a government-subsidized program meant to boost the virus-hit domestic tourism sector.

Japan has repeatedly insisted it will hold the Games despite opinion polls showing a majority of respondents want them postponed again or cancelled.

The 2020 Olympic Games originally slated for July of a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic are now on target to begin on July 23rd.

Despite the current surge in infections, Japan has reported far fewer infections than many countries of its size.

Japan made it through earlier surges in infections without a lockdown, but experts and officials warn that people are growing worn out and are becoming less cooperative than before.

Japan will take additional measures at the border to prevent imported infections, PM Suga said.

"I'm afraid a fear of explosive infections as in the USA and Europe can become a reality", he said, urging people to cooperate, regain their sense of crisis and urgency. Another variant was also detected in four people arriving from Brazil this week.

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