Japan Extends 4th State of Emergency Until Mid-September

More regions to added to the highest level as record cases are seen across the nation

Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area on May 7, 2021
(photo: Daryl Harding)

 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced tonight that the current State of Emergency, the fourth to be enacted to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, will be extended until at least September 12 in all the declared regions. Also, more prefectures are being bumped up from the third stage “quasi-State of Emergency” to the full State of Emergency from August 20.

 

Alongside the prefectures already under the State of Emergency declarations, which include Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa, from August 20 the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka, will also come under the highest level of “measures.”

 

10 prefectures will be bumped up to the “quasi-State of Emergency” stage, with Miyagi, Yamanashi, Toyama, Gifu, Mie, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kagoshima joining the six other prefectures currently in that stage, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Fukushima, Ishikawa, Aichi, Shiga, Kumamoto.

 

Shinjuku on May 7

Shinjuku (Photo: Daryl Harding)

 

Japan has been seeing record cases of COVID-19 every day, with the country as a whole reporting x amount today, with 4,377 new cases in Tokyo alone, not including the 1,634 in Saitama, 2,017 in Kanagawa, and 1,304 in Chiba, all neighboring prefectures. Japan recorded 20,362 cases last Friday, the highest ever for the country and double the amount when the State of Emergency was expanded on July 30. 90% of newly reported cases are of the Delta strain.

 

The situation is so bad that Tokyo is seeing the highest number of severe cases ever at 276, and has asked that cases that aren't as severe recuperate at home. Though, reports over the last few days have shown that if those at-home cases turn more severe, individuals have been unable to find hospitals available to take them, with some passing away at home.

 

Despite the high number of infections in Japan, the current State of Emergency continues to request businesses to close at 8 PM and not serve alcohol, though many ignoring the requests. Events, cinemas, and more (other than the Olympics and Paralympics) have been allowed to continue with some capacity caps and only requested to finish up at 9 PM. Suga has asked department stores in the declared regions to follow prefectural requests. 

 

Suga on August 17

Suga on August 17 (via NHK)

 

Shigeru Omi, the President of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, top medical adviser to the government, and chair of the government's coronavirus subcommittee, said today that “the fact is that we will not be able to overcome this situation by simply asking for cooperation” and “the members of the subcommittee are unanimous of the opinion that it is necessary to create a new legal system that will guarantee individuals will avoid activities with a high risk of infection.” 

 

The Prime Minister’s office reports that 37.6% of eligible people have been fully vaccinated in Japan, though different prefectures have had slower eligibility rollouts than others. The Japanese government is continuing to prioritize the elderly for second inoculations over the younger population. The vaccination rate for the elderly in Japan is currently at 84.3% for both doses.

 

Sources: NHK (1, 2, 3, 4, 5The Japan Times, Prime Minister's Office

 

If you or someone you know is living in Japan, coronavirus-based English resources are available at NHK World Japan. 

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Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram

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