Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Okayama, Fukushima, extend state of emergency
The Japanese government announced on Friday that it will extend the state of emergency in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Okayama, and Fukushima to June 20, after its advisory panel approved a plan earlier in the day,
The nine above prefectures were originally scheduled to end their respective state of emergencies on May 31.
Economy Minister and COVID-19 government response head Yasutoshi Nishimura highlighted the worsening strain in prefectural hospital systems and the national healthcare system due to continued high infection rates, with around 1,400 patients in Japan in serious condition.
The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government still intend to hold the Tokyo Olympics (which was already delayed from last year and rescheduled to July 23-August 8 this year) despite calls from over the majority of Japanese citizens polled and people outside Japan to cancel the games. A fully vaccinated Australian national softball team, consisting of 30 athletes and staff, will be the first Olympic athletes to arrive in Japan on June 1, setting up a training camp in Gunma.
Okinawa has already announced that its state of emergency, newly declared on May 23, will last until June 20. The current state of emergency covers over 40% of Japan’s population.
Under the new extension, the government has asked large department stores and shopping centers (larger than 1,000 square meters or about 10,800 square feet), pachinko parlors, arcades, and public bathhouses to close by at the latest 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, and to close entirely on weekends. The government has also asked events to have no more than 5,000 attendees (or no more than 50% of capacity) and end by 9:00 p.m. Prior to the extension, the government had asked these establishments to close, and for events to have no in-person audiences.
The Japanese government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures on April 23. This latest state of emergency was originally slated to lift on May 11. The state of emergency was intended to curb the amount of travel during the country’s Golden Week holidays in early May. The Japanese government then extended the state of emergency to May 31, and added Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures starting on May 12. The government then added Hokkaido, Okayama, and Hiroshima on May 16.