Prime Minister Abe to Declare State of Emergency for Tokyo

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After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave notice on the evening of April 6 that he would officially declare a state of emergency as soon as April 7, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held an emergency press conference of her own to help clarify Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s intentions to help prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus.

Abe said a state of emergency will be declared in seven prefectures in Japan. The prefectures are: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. The state of emergency period will be officially declared on Tuesday, April 7, and will last for approximately one month until May 6.

Abe told reporters the state of emergency declaration will not lock down any cities, and he also announced a stimulus package of ¥108 trillion (approximately $1 trillion).

Tokyo’s Response

According to NHK News, Koike said Tokyo will not enforce the same amount of restriction of movement as cities such as New York City, London and Paris, which all underwent “so-called lockdowns.”

“First and foremost, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of not going out,” said Koike, according to NHK reports. “Whether we can contain the spread or not depends on Tokyo citizens’ behavior following the state of emergency declaration.”

The state of emergency declaration will not prevent anyone from going shopping for food and medicine or going to hospitals. The state of emergency will also not shut down public transportation. In any case, most of Tokyo’s transportation systems are controlled by private enterprises not beholden to the Transport Ministry nor the government.

Once the declaration of emergency is announced, TMG will classify facilities into three categories: Facilities basically requested to close; facilities requested to close depending on function, and facilities necessary to maintain daily life. Each facility will be requested  to respond in accordance with the categorization.

Koike said TMG might strongly request leisure facilities where the spread of contagion risk is high, such as food and beverage venues where staff interact with customers, to close.

Also, Koike said that she is considering the creation of a fund for small and medium-sized business owners who cooperate to prevent the spread of coronavirus by closing business.

State of Emergency in Action

Tokyo reported 83 new cases of coronavirus on Monday. It is the second day the numbers decreased as Tokyo reported a record 143 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, April 5.

According to the current laws, certain prerequisites have to be met in order for the government to make a state of emergency declaration. These include: domestic reports of patients; a serious threat posed to people’s health, lives and the economy; and difficulty to contain the infection through other legal means.

After the declaration has been made, Abe can issue directives to local governments to focus on targeted responses to tackling the spread of COVID-19. Each of the seven prefectural governors will then have the final say on how measures are enacted within their constituencies.

Such measures include: asking residents to stay inside and curtailing the movement of people, closing public facilities and canceling large events, expropriating land and buildings to use as medical facilities and requesting or ordering emergency transportation of goods. It was already announced that the closure of Tokyo public schools is extended until May 6.


Feature image: joshimerbin / Shutterstock.com

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