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Japan to extend state of emergency until March 7

52 Comments
By Elaine Lies

Japan will extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions for another month until March 7, seeking to keep the upper hand over a COVID-19 outbreak even as daily case numbers begin to edge down. The current state of emergency had been scheduled to end on Feb 7.

Prime Minister Yoshida Suga made the announcement after a meeting of an expert coronavirus response panel Tuesday. He will hold a news conference on Tuesday evening.

"We'll respond with a sense of urgency based on the medical situation and virus spread," Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.

"The number of new coronavirus cases is falling, but caution is still needed," Kato said, adding that hospitals remained full and the death rate had not fallen.

Japan has reported a total of 391,618 COVID-19 cases, including 5,832 deaths.

Suga and his government remain determined to host the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, currently scheduled for July-August, despite the resurgence of the virus in Japan.

The government last month imposed a one-month state of emergency for 11 areas, including Tokyo and neighboring prefectures as well as Osaka, to combat the country's third and most lethal coronavirus wave.

However, official measures to control the virus have been hamstrung by a lack of legal weight, including any penalties, meaning the government can only request people follow directives.

That may change later this week with the passage of a revision to the coronavirus special measures law that will allow authorities to levy fines on people who break the law. The revision passed the lower house on Monday and is expected to be approved by the upper house on Wednesday.

Under the current state of emergency, scheduled to end on Sunday, restaurants and bars are requested to trade for shorter hours and people encouraged to stay home as much as possible. The Nikkei daily newspaper reported that gyms, cinemas and karaoke establishments could be added if new daily infections in Tokyo rise above 1,000 for several consecutive days.

Broadcaster NHK said one prefecture, Tochigi, will be omitted from the extension, which could be lifted earlier if the situation improves.

With Japan behind other nations rolling out vaccination programs, the government has pledged to start inoculating medical workers at the end of February. NHK reported on Tuesday that approval for the Pfizer vaccine could come as early as Feb 12.

Support for Suga's government has been battered by disapproval of his handling of the pandemic, a situation not helped when several ruling coalition lawmakers admitted to flouting rules by visiting hostess clubs and bars late at night. One resigned his seat on Monday and three others left Suga's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

52 Comments
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"We'll respond with a sense of urgency based on the medical situation and virus spread,"

This sums up the whole approach of our Dear Government

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Good.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Oh , please no pontificating on this glorious sunny day.

There is enough fake info around as it is...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Emergency or not, I don't see any difference. They just ask restaurants and izakayas to "please try to close at 8PM". The grocery store near my home took their part in the "emergency" by closing at 7PM instead of 7;30. Because the virus wakes up in the evening and starts hunting me down while I am buying food for dinner.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

The Sydney Morning Herald didn't hold back in this opinion piece on how Tokyo and more broadly Japan is dealing with Covid19.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/tokyo-olympics-plan-is-tempting-disaster-20210125-p56wim.html

15 ( +19 / -4 )

I feel this is the govt way of gaining trust from the public in hosting the Olympics. The SOE will continue, the tests will keep being reduced as will the “official” number of daily infections. Then the Olympics will happen and it’ll be all happy, happy, joy, joy and then bam! The truth will come out and the govt will blame it all on the naughty foreigners who came for the Olympics and didn’t follow the rules blah blah. Just wait.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

The Nikkei daily newspaper reported that gyms, cinemas and karaoke establishments could be added if new daily infections in Tokyo rise

So only Bars and restaurants are to blame for spreading the virus ??

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Good info tamanegi.

The J-media and TV can keep using their propaganda to the local media that Japan has lower cases compared to abroad but western medias and newspapaer with a more freedom of press know that these numbers are toned down by Japan.

Sad that the truth of testing comes only from non japanese informations.

Wait and pray for the comming of a vaccine is not enough,as always too slow and to late.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Tamanegi: Great link. One question though: Do Australians seriously only include commas in number from 10,000 on?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The right call to make - extend it for a month, get the vaccines ready and then see where we are in March.

Wouldn't surprise me if Koike and Suga are thinking, “well, we have reduced the cases from 2,400 to 600 in 6 weeks. 5 more weeks and we can kill the virus, plan for the Olympics - and maybe get in a little trip to the hostess bars in Ginza as a celebration”

6 ( +6 / -0 )

We'll respond with a sense of urgency based on the medical situation and virus spread," Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.

Oh please Katsu, don't be ridiculous , we all know the LDP govt has done absolutely nothing with a sense of urgency since this all started a year ago.

SOE will continue, the tests will keep being reduced as will the “official” number of daily infections. Then the Olympics will happen and it’ll be all happy, happy, joy, joy and then bam! The truth will come out and the govt will blame it all on the naughty foreigners

Pretty spot on.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

So when do the fines come into effect - today?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Emergency or not, I don't see any difference.

Outside of the big cities, you may do. I live in a town that relies on tourism but the prefecture itself is not part of the SoE.

There are virtually no tourists here (most come from Kanto), almost all of the hotels are closed, most of the bars and restaurants too, and new virus cases (if the figures are to be believed) are down to one or two a day.

I expect that SoE or no SoE, the people of Tokyo will get bored of staying in the city when the weather warms up in a few weeks and start ignoring the govt. advice. And if one of the new Covid variants is knocking about then the numbers might go up again like they did at the start of the year.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Won't change a thing. Popped by an Osaka department store and it was PACKED due to a Valentine's Fair. PACKED. and most people were not wearing masks as they ate soft ice cream or what have you, talking in loud voices, etc. I just wanted to buy some bread in the bakery. Line up for that was bad enough. And never mind the Starbucks -- no masks, loud as heck, and even for take-out coffee a fifteen to twenty minute wait due to the lines. What will this extension change?

Japan should hurry up and kiss the Olympics and this year goodbye since they refuse a hard lockdown.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Once again, kicking Okinawa out of Japan! We have been in our "own" emergency for a couple of weeks now and the Suga government wont include Okinawa in the "national" grouping!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I was just drinking coffee at a packed noisy Starbucks coffee shop. There was absolutely no difference regarding SOE or a regular working atmosphere.

Are we missing something here?

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

When did this SOE start again?

I think I missed it, because nothing has changed for months.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

"We'll respond with a sense of urgency based on the medical situation and virus spread," Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.

Virus spread? Are they admitting the official numbers are fake?

The cases are (apparently) dropping!!!

Anyway, regarding lockdowns, according to a recently study by John Ioannidis (and others), regarded as a top epidemiologist:

"While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs (nonpharmaceutical interventions). Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less‐restrictive interventions."

Luckily, the Japanese restrictions are less restrictive than in many other countries.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Another useless SOE that really has no meaning at all they just fudge the numbers to make things look good...while politicians go out drinking on taxpayers money to all hours of the night at their favorite hostess clubs in Ginza....there is them then us...the whole thing is one big shambles.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I will always do what the government tells me. I refuse to think for myself or to use critical reasoning. It is so much easier to just listen to the government with the obedience of a lap dog. So I will just stay home and stare at the walls and starve. Who needs to work when there is a virus with a 99.6% survival rate that is lurking to pounce on anyone. I will just make my living on sheer obedience to government mandates.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Is there...really...a lockdown, or just the clowns playing politics saying there is a lockdown? Putting on a show to trick the crowd.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Quid-pro-quoToday 06:11 pm JST

Is there...really...a lockdown, or just the clowns playing politics saying there is a lockdown? Putting on a show to trick the crowd.

There is a lockdown from 20:00. But only if it's not a karaoke, pachinko or hostess bar. If it's either of those, there is no lockdown. There is a lockdown for common folks. But not for the politicians going to hostess bars.

Also only in some prefectures, as the virus ignores certain prefectures.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Lol, the dude is rideing an electric scooter, which is illegal in Japan (unless have hideous wing mirrors and licence plate hanging off it) Breaking the rules abounds !

6 ( +7 / -1 )

On March 7th, if the Coronavirus isn't gone it will be because some people didn't follow the guidelines.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Does that mean the borders remain closed to foreigners entering the country?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

William77Today  04:44 pm JST

Good info tamanegi.

The J-media and TV can keep using their propaganda to the local media that Japan has lower cases compared to abroad but western medias and newspapaer with a more freedom of press know that these numbers are toned down by Japan.

About lower cases, J media haven’t done any propaganda for a long time and also compare with Taiwan or Vietnam where cases have kept very low.If propaganda there is, it is only by some politicians and a few analysts who want to keep their job, not by the media itself. Do you really watch and understand the J news ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What a waste of time. We picked up our green car tickets for four days down in Okushima, Hiroshima and another hotel nearby.

Traveling now is fantastic

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Meaningless. Just an attempt to make the Olympics still look feasible.

I hope every business that has had to close does the necessary paperwork and reams the government for as much money as they can get.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@didou

About lower cases, J media haven’t done any propaganda for a long time and also compare with Taiwan or Vietnam where cases have kept very low

This is quite true. Venture off of state run NHK for a while and you can see that some of the “J News” is actually downright harsh toward the government.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Under the current state of emergency, scheduled to end on Sunday, restaurants and bars are requested to trade for shorter hours and people encouraged to stay home as much as possible. The Nikkei daily newspaper reported that gyms, cinemas and karaoke establishments could be added if new daily infections in Tokyo rise above 1,000 for several consecutive days.

So my neighbourhood restaurants are at risk of closing down and meanwhile the nasty corporate gyms and karaoke joints are protected? I wish I had voting rights.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is good news. I thought they might ramp things up to a real state of emergency like in the UK. This is just life as normal for me, as I don't go to bars and restaurants after 8pm.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

To all those people who feel nothing has changed during this SOE - my bank balance has changed !

Thanks to the SOE & the media, my income has dropped by over 1/3

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I don't get it why the extension? Prime minister Suga promised on January 7th that he would have the virus under control in a month.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Japan-PM-declares-emergency-vows-to-control-COVID-in-month

4 ( +5 / -1 )

my business fully bankrupted on Monday. I’m fit, healthy, social distance and don’t use public transport. I can’t get any financial help because I’ve had no customers for almost a year.

it is proven in many countries that the viruses spread the same during lockdown and curfew.

Why harm young working people for the sake of the elderly, who can just...stay at home.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Hey Goodlucktoyou, sad to hear your business is bust. I was on the brink of opening a venture just as Covid hit, and we had to bail out of the plan.

It's proven that countries that lockdown, close borders and enforce curfew measures while testing and tracing for relatively short periods of time can control the spread and allow things to re-open. Japan almost did this with the first SOE, but bailed out just when things were working.

If the Government here had followed health advisors and not economists many of us would be in a better situation than we are now. Instead we get another round of 'Stay Home...but Go out until 8, and keep going to the office' half way BS that is prolonging the pain, not preventing it.

But I've said this so often I'm boring myself...Hahaha!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Goodlucktoyou

Sorry to hear about your business going under, I am rather curious as to what your business is.

Why harm young working people for the sake of the elderly, who can just...stay at home.

Unfortunately it is not just the elderly at risk, as we get more information the research is showing that lung scarring is occuring in a worryingly large number of people who have had covid-19 it affects people in all age groups and it is un-reversible and can cause major health issues now and in later life.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@smithinjapan - I agree with a lot that Japan has done wrong..but I can fully assure you that these scenes of 'crowds' are really NOT happening here in Tokyo. Sure, the trains are probably at 65-70% of what they normally would be on the evening, but I have yet to see anyone NOT wearing a mask. Restaurants at lunch barely have customers. The last place I waited 15-20 minutes for a coffee was the very first Starbucks in Ginza in 1996. I do think you are a little prone to exaggerating on some of your recent posts. Yawn.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Robert Cikki: "Also only in some prefectures, as the virus ignores certain prefectures."

Ah, but that's where the virus is really tricky, you see. The government negotiated with it to stay dormant from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., outside of which the world belongs to Corona. But when Corona shook hands with them on that (they didn't sanitise, either!), Corona pulled a little aside saying, "Ahhhh... but it is always after 8:00 p.m. somewhere in the world! Bwahahahahaha!!" and so the virus ACTUALLY spreads at any time, in any place, despite the government insisting it has won the virus' cooperation, and how regrettable it is.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@theResident,

you need to go outside and perhaps look around if your in Toyko or Kanto area and observe the surrounding. People are out like BAU at least in my opinion as to what Im observing. It also depends on the timing as well.

Cheers

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Theresident

Sure, the trains are probably at 65-70% of what they normally would be on the evening, but I have yet to see anyone NOT wearing a mask. 

Come on man, what line are you taking ?? I find this extremely hard to believe.

I often see people on the train without masks and many more chinning them. Just today a dude actually removed his mask to have a coughing fit in the train and then put it back on. I would have moved carriage if he wasn't at the opposite end. The other day a couple got on without masks at all and began chatting in loud voices I did move carriages!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan to extend state of emergency until March 7

So business as usual that’s what you mean.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At last, someone is making sense.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Tora.: Chiyoda and Hibiya. You? Come on man....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Restaurants at lunch barely have customers.

Not where I was today ( around Shin-Ochanomizu ). I had to drop in to pick something up from work and the restaurants and diners were doing a brisk trade around lunchtime.

I’ve always agreed with you that some people are overreacting, but busy restaurants at lunchtime are probably not a good idea.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@the Resident is right.

Ain't nothing like the crowds before. That is why I am traveling.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Suga government's "press conference" that eliminated freedom of questions.

Reporters who can participate are politics part of mainstream media who belong to "Kisha club" of cabinet office mainly.

A reporter can read one question only that they submitted to cabinet office beforehand, extra question is "violation".

It represents political attitude of Suga who disrespects press freedom and democracy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There's already an LDP clown calling for a resumption of the Go-To campaign from March (JT)...Wow!! Comedic Geniuses. You can't even make this stuff up... What's next? bring the crying politician Nonomura from retirement to oversee the vaccination program.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Jimizo - I agree with you. Busy (or brisk as you sensibly put it) is one thing, insanely crowded with large queues is another thing which @smithinjapan seems to allude to. I am probably not in the best part of town to have a real for for the lunch crowd, where as you are (I used to work in that area), but numbers are most definitely way down in the places I do go for lunch.

@Michael Aurelius: Clown or not - 'Go To' will be back, and certainly for Golden Week.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What will happened to Non-Japanese who need to enter into Japan for meeting up there family?

They all had hope for Feb 7th. Now what?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Foreign people are treated worst. They have to tested negative and go for quarantine for 14 days and still mot allowed to enter. What a good management sir jee

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Sam....they zoom like the rest of us, or Skype, Facetime, Line etc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As Queens will sing..." Show must go on!!..."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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