Tokyo, Japan | Japan extended the state of emergency on Friday, in relation to already six prefectures, including Tokyo, to three additional departments in the face of a renewed epidemic, just ten weeks before the Olympic Games open in the Japanese capital.
“We have decided to add the provinces of Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima to those already in the state of emergency” until May 31, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced.
In these three provinces, he added, “the population is relatively large and the number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing rapidly.”
The Japanese state of emergency has been activated for the third time in the country in just over a year, as the Japanese state of emergency provides for less stringent restrictions than the strict lockdowns applied elsewhere in the world.
It consists above all in restricting the activity of some physical businesses, in particular imposing the temporary closure of bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages, under penalty of a fine. Some shops and cinemas have also been closed.
Another set of measures, less than the state of emergency, will also be extended to 10 provinces, compared to 8 so far, out of 47 in the country.
Japan is relatively spared the epidemic overall, recording just over 11,000 official deaths since early 2020, but medical experts warn that the hospital system is under great strain.
A aggravating factor is that the vaccination campaign is progressing very slowly compared to other industrialized countries: only the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has been approved in the country so far and just over 1% of the population has been vaccinated.
Nevertheless, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics (23 July – 8 August) continue to ensure that these games take place “in complete safety” thanks to strict health protocols, large number of participants, and the success of the event. Recently held test events in the Japanese capital.
The International Olympic Committee concluded Wednesday that it is “fully focused on the final stage of implementation” of the Games, despite “speculation” and clear majority opposition from the Japanese, according to all polls.
A petition calling for the cancellation of the Olympic Games, which collected more than 350,000 signatures, was handed over to local authorities in Tokyo on Friday.