The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, announced Friday that he will extend the state of emergency in Tokyo and other major cities in the country until June 20, just over a month before the start of the Olympic Games, and thus complete the containment strategy initiated almost a month ago to contain the spike in cases in metropolitan areas.
The capital, Osaka and seven other affected prefectures account for more than half of the country’s GDP, making the decision an extreme emergency given the proximity of the start of the Olympics on July 23.
“It is true that the number of cases has fallen since the middle of the month but the situation remains unpredictable, and infections in Tokyo and Osaka, quite high,” explained the Prime Minister at a press conference reported by the official Japanese news agency Kiodo.
Suga also recalled that the number of critical patients in the country is around 1,400, with the consequent pressure on the national health system. It should be recalled that the vaccination campaign in the country is proceeding very slowly, with only 11.8 million doses applied since the start of the protocol (6 percent of the population).
Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Hyogo and Okayama will also remain under this special regime until the end of next month. Areas such as Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto will not participate in the extension of the current state of emergency, which was originally set to expire on Monday.
Restrictions include an 8 p.m. closure of large department stores and shopping malls, which will have to limit attendance to 5,000 people or 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, although governors can take stronger measures if they deem it necessary.
Meanwhile, public opposition to going ahead with the Olympics in the midst of the pandemic continues to grow: 59.7 percent of respondents to a Kiodo News poll published earlier this month favored cancellation of the event, given the possibility that it could lead to a new explosion of cases in the country.