Tokyo not planning to request declaration, but is consulting experts going forward
The Japanese government declared a quasi-state of emergency in Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima prefectures on Friday in light of rising new infection case counts of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in those prefectures. The quasi-state of emergency will go into effect from Sunday until January 31.
The country as a whole reported 6,214 new cases in Friday, with Okinawa recording 1,414 — the first time the prefecture has recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a single day. Yamaguchi reported 180 new cases, while Hiroshima reported a record 429 on Thursday, and Tokyo reported 922 on Friday. Until this week, the country had not reported over 4,000 new cases in one day since September 18, 2021, and had not reported over 6,000 new cases since September 15. The number of new cases has doubled every one to two days this week in Okinawa, Tokyo, and other prefectures. Japan Medical Association chairperson Toshio Nakagawa said on Thursday, “I think we have entered the sixth wave across the country.”
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday that the metropolis is not currently planning to request the national government for its own quasi-state of emergency. However, she added on Friday that the battle against COVID-19 has entered a new phase, and that she is consulting experts on whether to implement more countermeasures as the situation changes.
New cases in Okinawa were mostly centered on a cluster that began last month at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen base. The U.S. Marine Corps’ Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi has also reported a cluster of new infections.
Previous quasi-states of emergency, which have less strict guidelines compared to a full state of emergency, have asked dining and drinking establishments to stop selling alcohol, limit their hours, and limit the number of customers. They have also offered some financial compensation to businesses that comply with the guidelines, and they imposed additional anti-virus measures.
Japan only recently ended a full state of emergency in 19 prefectures in September last year. That state of emergency started in July (though Okinawa had then already been under a state of emergency for four months).