Increasing rate of infections expected to prompt other major Japanese cities also being part of designated emergency areas.

On Sunday, 143 new cases of coronavirus infection were confirmed in Tokyo. That marked a new high in single-day increases in the number of infected, despite Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike requesting that Tokyoites refrain from non-essential weekend outings since late March.

While Japan’s coronavirus death toll remains mercifully low, the increasing rate of infection has raised enough concern that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to declare a state of emergency tomorrow morning. On April 6, Abe met with Yasutoshi Nishimura, Special Measures Law Minister for Economic Revitalization, and Shigeru Omi, president of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, to make final preparations for the declaration, which is required to specify the areas affected and projected timeframe.

Tokyo is a given, but the declaration is also expected to declare a state of emergency for other major cities in Japan. The declaration would officially allow prefectural governors to request that facilities where large groups of people gather, such as schools, shopping centers, and movie theaters, close, and also to request that citizens refrain from leaving their homes for non-essential purposes. However, under current Japanese legislation, the declaration would still not require compliance from citizens and businesses.

A more concrete expansion of government powers, however, will come from the declaration giving authorities the ability to commandeer privately owned land and buildings for use as medical facilities, if needed, even without the consent of their owners.

Compared to many other countries, Japan’s attitude towards social distancing has been decidedly laid-back, with many restaurants and other businesses continuing to operate as normal, just with fewer walk-in customers. While Abe’s declaration still won’t be able to force their closure or enact a lockdown on Japan’s population, perhaps the sheer intimidating atmosphere of “official state of emergency” will help convince more people to stay at home at least until Tokyo stops breaking its record for single-day infection discoveries.

Source: NHK News Web via Jin, The Mainichi
Top image: Pakutaso
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