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Japan to issue 3rd virus emergency in Tokyo, Osaka area

TOKYO (AP) – Japan is set to issue a third state of emergency for Tokyo and three western urban prefectures amid skepticism that it will be enough to curb a rapid coronavirus resurgence before the Olympics in July.

Health and economy ministers in charge of the virus measures met with experts on a government task force to obtain their preliminary endorsement for the plan.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to formally announce later Friday a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, and its two western neighbors, Kyoto and Hyogo, from April 25 through mid-May.

Since the pandemic began, Japan’s third state of emergency comes only a month after an earlier emergency ended in the Tokyo area. For days, experts and local leaders said ongoing semi-emergency measures have failed, and more challenging steps are urgently needed.

Past state of emergency measures, issued a year ago and then in January, were toothless and authorized only non-mandatory requests. The government in February toughened a law on anti-virus measures stipulating that authorities could issue binding orders for nonessential businesses to shorten hours or close in exchange for compensation for those who comply and penalties for violators.

This time, measures include shutdown orders for bars, department stores, malls, theme parks, theaters, and museums. Restaurants not serving alcohol and public transportation services are asked to finish early. Schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes.

Mask-wearing, staying home, and other measures for the general public remain non-mandatory requests, and experts worry if they will be followed.


Japan has about half a million cases and 10,000 deaths and has not enforced lockdowns. But people are becoming impatient and less cooperative and have largely ignored the ongoing measures as the infections accelerated.

Osaka, the epicenter of the latest resurgence, has since April 5 been under semi-emergency status since, and the alert has since been expanded to 10 areas, including Tokyo, through May 11, a step promoted by Suga’s government as an alternative to a state of emergency with minor economic damage.spread rapidly across the country.

It also has been slow to roll out vaccinations, leaving its population largely unprotected before the Olympics begin in July.

The third emergency is intended mainly as a short and intensive step to stop people from traveling and spreading the virus during the “Golden Week” holidays from late April through the first week of May.

The May 11 end of the emergency, just ahead of an expected Japan visit of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, triggered speculation that the government prioritized the Olympic schedule over people’s health.

Bach’s comment that the state of emergency is “unrelated to” the Olympics also fueled criticisms from opposition lawmakers and others.

Suga has been reluctant to hurt the already pandemic-damaged economy and faced criticism for slowly taking virus measures.

Japan’s inoculation campaign lags behind many countries, with imported vaccines in short supply while its attempts to develop its vaccines are still in the early stages. Inoculations started in mid-February, but progress has slowly amid a vaccine supply shortage and healthcare workers.

The rapid rise of new patients flooding hospitals would likely cause further staff shortages and a slowdown in vaccinations.

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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