The country reported 4,527 new cases and 51 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the national total to nearly 300,000, with a death toll of 4,158. There are more than 61,500 patients in hospitals across the country, which are struggling to cope with the rise. Sudden cases caused in part by low winter temperatures.
Tokyo, which was previously among the hardest-hit regions, recorded 970 new cases on Tuesday, the first time that the daily number of the Japanese capital fell below 1,000 in more than a week. The total number of confirmed cases in Tokyo now stands at 77,133.
The new announcement expands demand to include Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi, Gifu, Tochigi and Fukuoka, and covers most parts of Japan’s main island of Honshu. 11 governorates in total are now subject to emergency measures.
The state of emergency requires companies to encourage their employees to work from home and reduce the number of offices by 70%. Residents of affected areas are also urged to avoid unnecessary outings and restaurants should stop serving alcohol by 7 PM and close by 8 PM.
Sports and entertainment events in Japan are also required to limit the number of attendees.
Suga requested public cooperation after the expanded measures were announced on Wednesday.
“I hope people will understand that this is an indispensable measure to improve this difficult situation. We will do whatever we need to do. I apologize for the inconvenience that caused your life with so many limitations, but we must overcome this,” he said at a press conference.
“I would like to ask for the people’s cooperation.”
However, unlike a number of other countries that have implemented lockdown and social distancing measures, Japan lacks much legal powers to enforce compliance with government orders. The country is also grappling with the coronavirus stress, having been among the first to be hit by the pandemic, and mixed messaging in recent months.
Speaking after the emergency order in Tokyo, Satoshi Kamayachi, a doctor and a member of the government’s Advisory Council of Experts, told CNN’s TV Asahi, “It’s not long enough to curb the increase in infections, we need to reduce human contact even further.”
Japanese officials are believed to be wary of imposing a full lockdown or other tougher emergency measures for fear of hurting the economy. The country is also facing once again tough decisions about the Olympic Games that were scheduled to take place last summer but were eventually postponed as the pandemic spreads across the globe.
The Tokyo Olympics is set to be held this summer from July 23 to August 8, according to the International Olympic Committee, with opening and closing ceremonies reduced in line with the “overall simplification of the Games.”
Last week, the Tokyo metropolitan government said it would postpone upcoming exhibitions of the Tokyo Olympics torch “to reduce the flow of people and prevent the spread of Covid-19”. The torch has been on display in several municipalities since November and is due to resume this week.
In a New Year speech to Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee employees this week, Chairman Yoshiro Mori said preparations will go ahead “as planned,” adding, “I think everything will be affected if I scratch my head or express any hesitation.”
“We will get out of this dark tunnel in cooperation with you,” Mori said. “I wish you all to do your best until the end to bring joy and hope to many people, believing that spring comes after winter and morning always comes after a long night.” .
Speaking to CNN, former International Olympic Committee official Dick Pound said it was unlikely that the Games would be postponed again, so any additional delay would likely mean canceling them.
“A one-year delay was a suggestion from Japan, and the organizing committee said, ‘Look, we can keep this together for another year, but not more,’” he said. “Postponing it for another year, for example, would come at a great cost, which Japan might not be willing to bear.” . It will further complicate the busy sporting schedule … The World Cup, soccer, and at some point there will be a lot of congestion in the system as a whole. “
He rejected the suggestion that the Tokyo Olympics could be turned into 2024, and that all the planned host cities had come forward in turn, as people who “had no idea what this (plan) meant in real life.”
CNN’s James Griffiths contributed reports from Hong Kong.