Japan Expected to Declare State of Emergency over Coronavirus
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday during a bid to prevent the coronavirus spreading across the country, because the cumulative number of infections topped 1,000 in Tokyo alone.
PM Shinzo Abe will likely announce his plans to declare the emergency on Monday, & new measures would likely come into force on Wednesday.
Pressure had been mounting on the govt to form the move because the pace of infections continues to accelerate – particularly within the capital – albeit it remains slow for now compared with the United States, countries in Europe and China, where thousands have died.
Sounding alarm over the high rate of cases that couldn’t be traced, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike indicated last week that she would favour a state-of-emergency declaration as a way to help her urge residents to adhere to stronger social-distancing measures.
Under a law revised in March to hide the coronavirus, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a “grave danger” to lives and if its rapid spread could have an enormous impact on the economy. Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said on Monday that a choice had yet to be made.
Declaring an emergency would give governors in severely affected regions legal authority to turn people to remain home and businesses to shut , but to not impose the type of lockdowns seen in other countries. In most cases, there are not any penalties for ignoring requests, and enforcement will rely more on peer pressure and respect for authority.
The government is probably going to designate the greater Tokyo metropolitan area for the state of emergency, and possibly also Osaka and Hyogo prefectures in western Japan.
More than 3,500 people have tested positive and 85 have died in Japan from the COVID-19 disease related to new coronavirus. Experts worry a sudden surge could strain Japan’s medical system and leave patients with nowhere to travel .
The government’s coronavirus task force – a separate entity from the panel of experts – is scheduled to carry a gathering on Monday evening. Governors in Tokyo et al. have previously asked citizens to remain home on weekends, avoid crowds and evening outings, and work from home. That had some effect, but but many experts said was needed.
Restricting movement and businesses under a state of emergency would deal an important blow to an economy already struggling to avoid a recession. The government is readying a stimulus package of hundreds of billions of dollars to be rolled out this week.