Japan Battles 3rd Wave of Corona

Tokyo governor calls for state of emergency

3 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Tokyo governor calls for state of emergency

TOKYO: Tokyo’s governor on Saturday asked Japan’s central government to declare a new state of emergency as the country battles a third wave of the coronavirus, with record numbers of new cases, reports AFP.

Yuriko Koike, joined by the governors of three neighbouring regions, called for the measure to be imposed in their areas during a meeting with Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the coronavirus response.

Japanese officials have in recent weeks asked restaurants and businesses to close early and urged people to stay at home, measures that Koike said were having “some effect”.

“But considering the number of cases and the situation of the medical system in Tokyo and the three neighbouring prefectures, we decided it was necessary to immediately and thoroughly curb the movement of people,” she told reporters.

Nishimura, who earlier this week said a state of emergency could be necessary if cases continued to rise, said the government viewed the situation as “serious” and would discuss the request.

He said he had asked governors to request businesses further shorten their hours and that residents avoid non-essential outings after 8.00 pm.

On Thursday, Tokyo reported more than 1,300 new cases, far exceeding the previous high of 949 cases set late last month, with nationwide infections also breaking records.

Japan imposed a first state of emergency in spring.

The measure allows local governors to call on businesses to close and to request people stay at home. It carries no penalties for non-compliance, but the requests were widely observed this spring. There was no immediate word on whether the governors would seek school closures. Japan was one of the first countries in the world to shutter schools, with then prime minister Shinzo Abe calling for closures in February.

Japan has had a milder pandemic than many other countries, with about 3,500 deaths since its first case in January.