Japan Lifts COVID State of Emergency for Much of Country

Grant Boone
May 15, 2020

After nearly one month of a nationwide state of emergency, implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has lifted the order in 39 out of the country's 47 prefectures.

While Japan has avoided the kind of explosive growth seen in the United States and elsewhere, its testing has also been among the lowest, at 188 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per 100,000 people, versus 3,159 in Italy and 3,044 in Germany.

The 39 prefectures whose state of emergency has been lifted account for 54 percent of Japan's population, but the greater Tokyo area accounts for a third of the economy.

Asked about the criteria in parliament, Nishimura said it corresponded to the situation until around March 20 when Japan was able to limit the spread of the virus by tracking clusters.

Abe is being pressed to strike the right balance between preventing a reversal of the recent downward trend in daily reported cases and allowing economic activity to resume in stages.

All businesses to face Government inspections before reopening
A COVID-19 risk assessment should be carried out to capture and record the control measures employers identify as necessary. This strongly suggests that businesses who do not properly plan for a safe return to work will face scrutiny from the HSE.

The Japanese government announced on Tuesday that it would determine on Thursday whether to lift the state of emergency early over a majority of the country's prefectures.

Mr Abe, however, warned people against letting their guard down, saying he will declare another state of emergency should Japan encounter a surge in cases.

The government plans to lift the state of emergency in 39 of the country's 47 prefectures, while keeping the measure in place for eight prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido.

Japan declared a nationwide state of emergency last month, which gave the government more authority to set up lockdown rules in an effort to flatten the curve and stop the further spread of Covid-19. He then expanded it to the entire nation on April 16 before extending it to May 31. While local governors can call on businesses to stay closed and suggest people stay at home, there are no punishments if they choose not to do so. The requests are voluntary and no penalties are imposed for noncompliance.

According to national broadcaster NHK, Japan has reported 16,171 confirmed cases, including 5,027 in Tokyo, as of Thursday afternoon at 6.

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