Japan Declares Coronavirus ‘State of Emergency,’ Locks Down Tokyo

People wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, commute late evening in Tokyo on November 17, 2020. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Japan’s federal government declared a limited state of emergency in its national capital, Tokyo, and three neighboring prefectures on Thursday in an effort to curb transmission of the Chinese coronavirus.

The emergency state will last until at least February 7 and focus on shutting down or restricting service in the capital region’s 150,000 restaurants and bars.

“[E]mergency measures include asking restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m., and residents to refrain from non-urgent outings, more work from home and limiting crowds at sports and other big events to 5,000 people,” Reuters reported on Thursday.

The locked-down capital region includes Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba prefectures, which account for 30 percent of Japan’s population of nearly 127 million people.

Japan’s government declared a full state of emergency in the same capital region plus northern Japan’s Hokkaido island in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That lockdown lasted nearly two months before it was lifted at the end of May. According to the Japanese government on Thursday, the new limited emergency measures should be less severe than those imposed in 2020.

“At that time, the curbs were nationwide and schools and non-essential businesses were mostly shuttered. This time, schools are not being closed,” Reuters noted.

The decision to restrict movement in the capital region came as the number of new daily coronavirus cases in the area surged past 7,000 for the first time on January 7.

“Japan logged 7,568 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, far exceeding its previous daily record of some 6,000 new cases, set on Wednesday,” the Japan Times reported.

“In Tokyo, the daily number of newly confirmed cases came to 2,447, rising above the 2,000 mark for the first time,” according to the newspaper.

“The global pandemic has been a tougher one than we expected, but I’m hopeful we can overcome this,” Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said at a televised news conference on Thursday.

“For this to happen, I must ask citizens to endure life with some restrictions,” he added.

If the limited state emergency does not help slow the spread of coronavirus in the capital region, “[w]e may need to think about a state of emergency nationwide,” Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japan Medical Association, warned on Wednesday.

Japan has recorded 267,065 cases and 3,674 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus so far.

The Japanese health ministry plans to roll out a coronavirus vaccination campaign by early March.


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