Japan declares a State of Emergency tonight
― with “buts”
7 April 2020
– on 7 April Japan’s PM declared a State of Emergency, which went into effect at midnight.
– Earlier, the Tokyo Metropolitan government intended to announce on 7 April the categories of business (to be closed, restricted or maintained), as mentioned below.
– But Tokyo postponed its announcement in order to coordinate further with the Japanese Government as to the specific categories of business and measures concerned.
– On 8 April, the Japanese Government said it might take another two weeks to reach an agreement with Tokyo and other six prefectures on the specific business categories, adding further confusion to the implementation.
– On 9 April, the GoJ reached an agreement with Tokyo on this point.
– On 10 April, the Tokyo Governor announced the business categories to be involved in the “request”, which goes into effect at midnight.
– On 16 April, PM extended the State of Emergency to cover the other 40 prefectures, in effect also until 6 May.]
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will declare this evening a state of emergency for seven prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba in the greater metropolitan area; and Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka in the Western Japan.
It will go in effect at midnight today for a period of one month until 6 May – that is, until further notice.
State of emergency and measures against the spread of COVID-19
The declaration of a state of emergency is based on Japan’s special law entitled “新型インフルエンザ等対策特別措置法” (meaning the law on the special measures against super-flu and other epidemics), which went in force mid-March this year.
The law stipulates a state of emergency and special measures in case of an epidemic, to protect the citizen’s life and health and to minimize the negative impacts on their life and the nation’s economy.
Japan’s Prime Minister shall declare a state of emergency for a specific area (among 47 prefectures) and a specific time period, defining the scope of application. He shall also create a national action plan.
Based on the nation’s state of emergency and action plan, the prefectural governors shall introduce special measures against the epidemic.
For the state of emergency to be declared tonight, Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike has already informed the Tokyo residents and businesses of the outline of special measures to implement.
*the information as of 7 April
The measures to be implemented by the Tokyo government consist mainly of “requests”, such as asking its residents to refrain from going out and asking its businesses to restrict the use of their facilities or not to organize events and gatherings.
◆The following facilities, among others, shall be “requested” to close during a specified period:
Universities, driving schools, cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries, libraries, exhibition halls,
department stores and malls, DIY stores, ball parks, sports clubs and gyms, barbers, gaming arcades, clubs, izakaya and pubs, cabarets, nightclubs, dance halls, pachinko parlors, karaoke places and other amusements.
◆Others, such as the following, may remain open or in operation:
Hospitals, pharmacies, drugstores, central markets, supermarkets, corner stores (“Combini” or convenience stores), hotels, public transportations, the logistics and distribution infrastructures, factories, public bathhouses, restaurants (to be asked to shorten hours), banks and financial institutions.
Other measures include “orders” and certain forcible measures in case of necessity, to secure medical conditions and crucial life lines, including the provision of medicines and foodstuffs.
Furthermore, Tokyo shall earmark special allocations in supplementary budgets to implement the special measures and mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic.
Tokyo without a “lockdown”
The special measures of Tokyo (and the other prefectures concerned) will be thus largely on a request basis, mostly without any fines in case of disrespect. They do not entail the enforcement by the police (except for infraction of orders concerning the medical provisions, etc.).
Even if many establishments are closed, people can still go out for grocery shopping or otherwise.
Trains will remain in operation, though the last trains may be earlier to encourage people to go home. The commuters, alas, won’t be stopped from going to office, if their office is open despite the request of telework.
Tokyo, at the moment, will go without a real “lockdown”, unlike Paris or other cities in the world.
We need to see how the pressure to conform, not penalties, may slow the spread of the coronavirus.
*For details and for the sake of accuracy, consult the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s official website.
* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.