Regions in Japan request people in coronavirus hit areas to refrain from movement

Regions in Japan request people in coronavirus hit areas to refrain from movement

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The limitations of the state of emergency ushered by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are creating internal tensions. This relates to Yuriko Koike, the Tokyo Governor, seeking greater clarity so that she can lockdown more stringently. While non-state of emergency prefectures seek to keep people from the state of emergency areas out – or for people to at least self-quarantine.

Not surprisingly, the fear of coronavirus (Covid-19) is pervading in Japan despite the current low death toll being below 100. At the same time, it is clear that a minority of individuals in other nations left highly infected areas out of fear. For example, in Italy, many people fled the hardest-hit areas. Thus, the consequences of this were spreading the coronavirus to other parts of Italy. Therefore, the same fear exists in Japan.

Abe applied the state of emergency to the megacities of Osaka and Tokyo. While the prefectures of Chiba, Fukuoka, Hyogo, Kanagawa, and Saitama were also included. However, despite the obvious logic of this move being the start of greater containment, it is also creating friction. Hence, other prefectures don’t want people from the state of emergency areas to flee and spread the coronavirus. Similarly, many governors want business people and tourists to refrain from visiting lesser-infected areas.

Abe stipulated, “This state of emergency declaration is to ensure the medical care system stays intact and to ask for even more cooperation from the public to avoid contact with each other to reduce infection as much as possible.” 

Yet the weakness of his declaration means that non-state of emergency prefectures need to implement their own policies to contain the crisis. Thus, Abe’s statement, “In Japan, even if we declare a state of emergency, we will not close cities as seen in foreign countries. Experts have told us that there is no need for such a step,” isn’t strict enough. After all, many people will ignore personal social responsibility out of fear.

In a joint appeal by the prefectures of Aichi, Gifu, and Mie the respective governors implored local people to refrain from visiting areas under the state of emergency. Likewise, they have requested local people to tell family members, business acquaintances, and friends who reside in the state of emergency areas to refrain from entering Aichi, Gifu, and Mie. Of course, if the reasons for visiting are essential then currently they don’t have the power of enforcement. This “vagueness” needs to be clarified by the central government if the coronavirus crisis develops in earnest.

Yesterday, Modern Tokyo Times stipulated, 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.”

The Mayor of Gotenba in the prefecture of Shizuoka, Yohei Wakabayashi, implored people in the state of emergency areas to keep out. He uttered pointedly, “Our city is not meant to be a refuge.”

Overall, the vagueness of the state of emergency and the limitations of Abe’s enforcement means that other prefectures are seeking to defend themselves. After all, the movement of people in parts of Northern Italy meant the coronavirus spread to the central and southern parts of this country.

Thus, while the number of deaths is still low in Japan, the presumption is that the central government is expecting this to change dramatically. Hence, people in non-emergency held prefectures are worried by the movement of people from emergency held areas.

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