Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi are currently under a quasi-state of emergency
Tokyo Station in November 2021 (photo: Daryl Harding)
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads around the world, it's now Japan’s turn to deal with the virus both domestically and at its borders with Tokyo announcing today that it is re-upping some measures against the virus as new cases return to an average of 1,000 per day, and Japan confirming that its borders will remain closed to new entrants.
Since New Year’s, new COVID-19 cases in Japan’s capital have gone from 79 people to a 2022 record of 1,228 on January 8–a little over a week. On January 11, Tokyo reported 962 new infections, more than 6 times the number of new cases than last Tuesday.
Due to this, the Tokyo government has asked uncertified establishments, those which haven’t undergone government certificated COVID-inspections to show how they’re limited spread, to stop serving alcohol at 9 PM and cap the number of people in one group to four. Certified establishments are able to remain open and serve as they are doing now.
Tokyo has also closed the Ueno Zoological Gardens and Tokyo Sea Life Park to limit the spread of the Omicron variant. The government has also asked people to work from home to limit spread, though has noted that telework figures are not as high as the government would like them to be.
Shibuya in November 2021 (photo: Daryl Harding)
The Japanese government also announced today that the border will remain closed to those who don’t currently reside in Japan, leaving those who wish to enter Japan for educational or business purposes stuck outside the country. These measures are said to remain in place until at least the end of February.
The three prefectures of Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi have been put under a quasi-state of emergency to limit the spread, with more extreme measures in those regions than that in Tokyo. Okinawa is currently the hardest hit prefecture for the Omicron strain per capita due to the US Army bases on the island forgoing any pre-departure and post-arrival testing for members of the U.S. forces. Hiroshima and Yamaguchi also have army bases close by which have reported high COVID cluster rates.
The measures in the three prefectures are scheduled to last until January 31, while Tokyo hasn’t confirmed when its measures will end.
If you or someone you know is living in Japan, coronavirus-based English resources are available at NHK World Japan.
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.