Japan is currently in the middle of a new wave of the corona pandemic. Barely three months before the start of the Olympic Games, this outbreak is very inconvenient. Because the government has not yet succeeded in reducing the corona figures for the time being, they are now taking very strict action. A state of emergency has been declared in the capital Tokyo and three other urban prefectures and very strict corona measures will apply for the next 2.5 weeks.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for the capital Tokyo and the prefectures of Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo in a national speech Friday evening. It starts on Sunday and lasts until May 11th.
It is the third time since the start of the corona crisis that Japan has declared a state of emergency. These times, it was experts advising the Japanese government as well as local administrators calling for the drastic intervention.
“The end should be in sight. A state of emergency has now been declared. I ask for your cooperation from the bottom of my heart, ”said Prime Minister Suga. Just over 30 million people live in the four affected areas, accounting for about a quarter of Japan’s total population.
More infectious variant
The measures are aimed at limiting contacts between people as much as possible. The details of the new rules are not yet known, but bars and restaurants are likely to close or drastically cut their opening hours. Shopping centers will also be asked to close, as will non-essential companies. Additional support measures are also provided for this.
At the moment, about 4 to 5,000 new infections are diagnosed daily in Japan, but that number is increasing day by day. There are suspicions that a new, more contagious variant is responsible for that new peak.
The severe intervention of the Japanese government can be seen as the ultimate attempt to save the Olympic Games next summer. The Games were supposed to take place last year, but have been postponed from July 23 to August 8, 2021 due to the corona pandemic.
A new postponement is neither logistically nor financially feasible, so it is now or never. The official position of the government, the Tokyo2020 organization and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still to keep the sporting event going as planned. However, there is increasing resistance against this, from various quarters.
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