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As state of emergency looms over virus, some experts say one month won't be long enough

28 Comments

Japan's COVID-19 cases reached a new daily record on Wednesday, as the government faced mounting pressure from health experts to impose a strict state of emergency for the Tokyo greater metropolitan area.

Rising infections have driven the Tokyo and surrounding areas to the highest level of a four-stage alert, prompting regional governors to call for a declaration of emergency that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to announce on Thursday.

The health ministry held a meeting of infectious disease experts on Wednesday, the second in as many days. They have called for stricter and longer countermeasures, while Suga has sought a more limited response to avoid damaging the economy.

"Even if we take strong measures immediately, it will be difficult to bring the Tokyo metropolitan area down to stage 3 by the end of January," Takaji Wakita, chief of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told reporters after the meeting.

New infections nationwide reached 6,001, according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK. Tokyo reported 1,591 cases, also an all-time high.

Without new measures, daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3,500 per day by February and hit 7,000 by March, according to simulations by Kyoto University scientist Hiroshi Nishiura. An emergency declaration would need to last at least two months to bring infections to manageable levels, he said.

A senior ruling party lawmaker said it should be imposed for one month, and extended if necessary. The government is anxious about the economic impact as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer.

Economists warned of a big hit to gross domestic product(GDP) if restrictions are prolonged or expanded, but said that could be unavoidable.

"If you consider the current number of infected, and weather-related factors, it may be difficult to end it in one month," said BNP Paribas Securities senior economist Hiroshi Shiraishi. "The probability of it running longer is not low."

Shiraishi estimated that a one-month state of emergency in the Tokyo area would push consumer spending down 1.1% and first-quarter GDP by about 0.5 percentage points. That would double to 1 point if extended to two months, and to 2 points if expanded nationally, he predicted.

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures have asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8 p.m. from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said restaurants and bars must close by that time.

But measures are likely to be far less sweeping than they were during last year's six-week state of emergency, during which schools and non-essential businesses shut down.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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here’s a title for you because opinions are like buttonholes.

some experts say one month won't be long enough, whereas other experts say it will be long enough, and yet other experts say the state of emergency isn’t needed and will have a calamitous effect on the mental well being of certain social groups and industries.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Go out at your peril.

That’s it.

no lockdown, no state of emergency.

utilize the army to make food deliveries to the vulnerable and build giant covid facilities for the sick

Go out at your peril. There’s a virus out there. If you feel up to it though, no one is stopping you continuing your livelihood. Because that’s not allowed, it impinges on your basic freedom. And this virus won’t do anything much to the majority of people anyway, ‘some’ scientists say.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

It will be extended because one month will not be enough to lower the rates.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

keep it for as long as needed. You can't impose a fixed number on things like these, the people should work around this problem and not the other way around. The longer Yoshi-kun delays the action, the more cases will spread.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Get the vaccines done now it's the only way to stop the deaths.

The longer Japan waits the more serious it will become.

Lockdowns etc are just a bandaid

4 ( +11 / -7 )

some experts say one month won't be long enough, whereas other experts say it will be long enough, and yet other experts say the state of emergency isn’t needed and will have a calamitous effect on the mental well being of certain social groups and industries.

It would be good to link to those second and third kind of experts, the ones on the first group are listed in the article and at least they seem to have data to support their expertise in the field. Maybe the ones that are of a different opinion are experts in unrelated fields?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The government is anxious about the economic impact as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer.

I’m so sick of hearing this. Cancel the bloody game already if that is the reason the government is doing next to nothing to control this. Its outrageous we are going through this stupid BS again this year.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Don't just pick on the bars and restaurants for the lockdown and also get the vaccine out asap then a month might be long enough.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I think the economists should be thinking of taking precautions as the new normal and consider ways to grow the enconomy under such conditions.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Meanwhile millions of Japanese are presently cheek to cheek on buses and trains with millimeters between them....

13 ( +14 / -1 )

The health ministry held a meeting of infectious disease experts on Wednesday, the second in as many days. They have called for stricter and longer countermeasures, while Suga has sought a more limited response to avoid damaging the economy.

Suga is an IDIOT. Not flattening the curve is what is going to damage the economy long term. He doesn't understand the concept of short term pain for long term gain. He's not willing to listen to the advice of the experts and just do it his own way. Where have we seen that before and what was the outcome?

Economists warned of a big hit to gross domestic product(GDP) if restrictions are prolonged or expanded, but said that could be unavoidable.

Stricter and longer do not go hand in hand. I'd say they are inversely proportional. If the gov implements a strict SOE with students studying from home, and people working from home (as much as possible) as well as financial assistance to businesses made to close as a result of the SOE they could seriously flatten the curve. A lukewarm SOE response will take MUCH LONGER and will basically be ineffective and this will go on.

The government is anxious about the economic impact as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer.

I’m so sick of hearing this. Cancel the bloody game already if that is the reason the government is doing next to nothing to control this. Its outrageous we are going through this stupid BS again this year.

AMEN!!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Doesn't affect me. I still have to come into work everyday regardless. I would happily stay home, but I don't get paid if I do so, so no choice. The mortgage won't pay itself.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Agree with comments above.

The problem here is the economists running the show and exacerbating the effects of the Pandemic.

The Japanese public seem willing to take steps but the Government appears to be held hostage by short term gain chasing fools (Olympic) gold.

We all know what needs to be done.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

From what I have read and heard on the news so far, these planned state of emergency restrictions are going to mean absolutely no change to my current daily life. I guess the experts feel that all the people getting Covid 19 have a much more exciting nightlife than me.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The olympics are just around the corner. If they are gonna do something they had better do it soon and do it well or there will be no olympics.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The government is anxious about the economic impact as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer.

Any responsible government would be putting the Olympics secondary right now.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Any responsible government would be putting the Olympics secondary right now.

Alas this is an LDP govt , since when did LDP care more about the average Taro than profits for their J-Inc  buddies ?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Only in Japan, the Economic Minister Yasutoshi Nomura is responsible for a Medical Emergency!!!! How telling!!! This is a pandemic that is resulting in a recession not vice versa.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Any responsible government would be putting the Olympics secondary right now.

Very true. But anyone who thinks the LDP is a responsible gov needs a straight jacket

Alas this is an LDP govt , since when did LDP care more about the average Taro than profits for their J-Inc buddies ?

Since NEVER brother!

Only in Japan, the Economic Minister Yasutoshi Nomura is responsible for a Medical Emergency!!!! How telling!!!

business as usual here

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@kurisupiso

Meanwhile millions of Japanese are presently cheek to cheek on buses and trains with millimeters between them

Not only Japanese, Me too!

@Bernard Marx

Doesn't affect me. I still have to come into work everyday

Same here. If the SOE is 1 day or 1 year. It makes zero difference for my personally life.

Except if the schools will be closed. Than my wife will lose her income and probably her job.

That would be a very serious situation for us.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I wonder how this would pan out if the virus suddenly mutated to a version which would affect mainly young people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3,500 per day by February and hit 7,000 by March

How serious cases and deaths which are the most important to consider? It is very clear from the data that they do go up anywhere near as much.

A country is not a hospital. I'd trust a doctor to run a hospital, but not a country. Doctors are supposed to follow the Hippocratic oath of "do no harm", but that's within medicine. Treating this solely as a medical question is over-simplifying it. The national government are actually being sensible when they say they have to consider all aspects of the country.

Also, if you declare an emergency and give powers to local governments to do as they please, they have no responsibility to consider the nation as a whole. Even a restricted SOE in Tokyo will have negative effects elsewhere. The economy will be damaged and people's incomes will be reduced. Locking down a whole country is economic suicide.

Be careful of wishing poverty and all its ills on people, because that is that will happen too

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

A lot of people are gonna pass from COVID if those Olympics don't take place, to much at stake now. The grease has long been gone and was never applied again as promised. Pandemic or not those law abiding elements are getting antsy, black day coming when a lot of people will think they can fly, only to become a red spot.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Concretely, this SoE might/will only affect people having a life after 8pm, and some organizers to cancel a few events.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Without new measures, daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3,500 per day by February and hit 7,000 by March, according to simulations by Kyoto University scientist Hiroshi Nishiura. An emergency declaration would need to last at least two months to bring infections to manageable levels, he said.

The last month has seen daily numbers in Tokyo go from 400 a day to 1500 being found off a pitiful number of tests. The latest evidence is two doublings (i.e., quadrupling) in 30 days. In those thirty days, the new and more contagious variant of Covid-19 has been found in Japan and, although less than a normal year, people have still been congregating at family homes, shrines, and no doubt parties in bars over New Year. There is no reason to assume, with (surely!) more testing to come and the more contagious variant out there, that 3500 and 7000 are a worst case that "could" happen. The current trajectory is pointing to something much worse than that already.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Japan Medical Association president "demanded" a nationwide lockdown apparently.Show businesses the money and they'll be good with it.To borrow what a poster said before,"Trying to kill the virus with lockdowns" is the playbook.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Without new measures, daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3,500 per day by February and hit 7,000 by March, according to simulations by Kyoto University scientist Hiroshi Nishiura. An emergency declaration would need to last at least two months to bring infections to manageable levels, he said.

The last month has seen daily numbers in Tokyo go from 400 a day to 1500 being found off a pitiful number of tests. The latest evidence is two doublings (i.e., quadrupling) in 30 days. In those thirty days, the new and more contagious variant of Covid-19 has been found in Japan and, although less than a normal year, people have still been congregating at family homes, shrines, and no doubt parties in bars over New Year. There is no reason to assume, with (surely!) more testing to come and the more contagious variant out there, that 3500 and 7000 are a worst case that "could" happen. The current trajectory is pointing to something much worse than that already.

Absolutely!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The wife just now sent me a line message. Over 2000 cases in Tokyo Today

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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