The Daily Manila Shimbun


Abe Declares Coronavirus Emergency for Tokyo, Other Areas

April 7, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for Tokyo and six other prefectures following a spike in the number of new coronavirus infection cases, paving the way for restrictive measures to contain the epidemic.

The state of emergency will remain in place until May 6, when the Golden Week holiday period ends.

Abe made the emergency declaration, the first of its kind issued under a related law, at a meeting of the government's coronavirus response headquarters, after his move was approved at a meeting in the morning by an advisory committee composed of infectious disease experts and lawyers.

Following the approval, Abe gave prior notice of his emergency declaration to the steering committees of both chambers of parliament.

It was the first time in about 45 years that a sitting prime minister has taken part in discussions at a steering committee of parliament.

At the meeting of the headquarters, Abe said, "Facing a national crisis, we will promote measures aimed at preventing a further spread of infections by putting top priority on protecting people's lives and health."

Abe called on the public to reduce outings by 70 to 80 pct. "We will be able to reverse growth in the number of infection cases in two weeks from now if we can reduce human-to-human contacts by at least 70 pct, or hopefully 80 pct," he said.

The emergency declaration is based on the special law on measures to fight new strains of influenza, which was originally enacted in 2012 and was revised recently to cover the new coronavirus.

The monthlong state of emergency will cover Tokyo, the neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, and the western Japan prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo, as well as the southwestern Japan prefecture of Fukuoka.

The governors of Tokyo and the six prefectures will be given stronger authority after the declaration takes effect.

They will be able to ask residents to avoid leaving home for nonessential purposes and call for a suspension of facility use and the cancellation of events. In addition, the governors will be authorized to take steps that could restrict private rights, such as forcibly using land plots and buildings to set up medical facilities and expropriating medicines and other specific supplies.

At the morning meeting, the advisory committee concluded that the situations in Tokyo and the six prefectures meet the two requirements for declaring a state of emergency--the possibility of the spread of the virus having a significantly large impact on people's lives and health, and fears that the virus may become rampant rapidly nationwide and have a tremendous impact on people's lives and the economy.

Abe's prior notice to parliament was made in line with a supplementary resolution related to the special measures law.

At a meeting of the steering committee of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, Abe said he has concluded that the seven areas now face a situation in which the coronavirus outbreak may have a tremendous impact on people's lives and the economy.

"I want the public to cooperate fully in exercising self-restraint on nonessential outings as much as possible and continue the business operations needed to maintain the functions of society," Abe also said.

The prime minister later gave similar explanations to the steering committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber.

The number of new coronavirus infection cases in Japan has topped 4,000, excluding those who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off Japan earlier this year. Tokyo- Jiji Press