PM Abe and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike in a clash over the State of Emergency

PM Abe and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike in a clash over the State of Emergency

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration loathe curtailing the economy to any extreme despite growing coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. Yet, Yuriko Koike, the Tokyo Governor, is now fully focused on the coronavirus crisis after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed. Hence, two personal egos are set to clash after their recent unity over the Olympics whereby the coronavirus issue was put on a backburner.

Fast-forward to events in early April, despite coronavirus entering Japan in the middle of January, and now you have a state of emergency declared. However, this isn’t your normal state of emergency, instead even hair salons are deemed to be important by the central government. At the same time, powers can only request people to avoid congregating so it is very different from France where people face fines.

Astonishingly, despite the stern tone of Abe in declaring a state of emergency, it seems that beauty salons, barbershops, and DIY stores are deemed important to be maintained. This is despite increasing coronavirus cases being reported in Japan.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the Economic Revitalization Minister, uttered, “Barbershops, beauty salons and DIY stores are vital in maintaining daily lives.”

Irrespective of the opportunistic nature of Koike about the Olympic fiasco of false pretense. It is clear that in the post-Olympic postponement period that she is more serious about preventing the spread of coronavirus in Tokyo – even if she is late to the table. At least, unlike the endless economic angle of the central government, she is now at the table and joining people who were concerned from day one.

Koike, on hearing of the increasing coronavirus cases in Tokyo – that were suspiciously low based on lack of testing set down by Abe but not challenged by Koike during February and the first three weeks of March – now wants to take action. Hence, Koike wants to lockdown Tokyo more seriously rather than the “fake” way that the Abe administration wants to implement.

Koike set off alarm bells in the central government because she wants the lockdown to apply to many sectors. For example, she mentioned closing down barbers, department stores, restaurants, hardware stores, and other areas. Yet, after expressing this to Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Representatives, this drew the ire of the central government.

In other words, the central government is more concerned about issues relating to compensation. Thus, the prefectures and cities that were mentioned in the state of emergency must be at a loss because it seems more like a political smokescreen.

It must be stated, the death rate from the coronavirus in Japan is a remarkably low 0.7 percent per million at the moment. This equally increases the estrange nature of coronavirus in Japan because despite entering this nation in the middle of January, it seems more like a political football and the true extent remains unknown.


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