Japan mulls extending state of emergency for 4 prefectures

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to reporters in Tokyo on April 30.

With novel coronavirus infections still surging in parts of Japan, the government is considering extending the state of emergency that was scheduled to expire on May 11 in four prefectures, according to sources.

In addition to a possible extension of the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, the government is also considering whether to issue emergency-level priority measures for Hokkaido and Fukuoka Prefecture.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was expected to discuss the measures on Wednesday with Cabinet members, including Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the nation’s coronavirus response, and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura.

If the state of emergency is extended, the focus will be on whether the government will maintain current measures to curb the flow of people, such as asking businesses from dining establishments to large-scale commercial facilities to suspend operations and urging organizers of events not to permit spectators.

The Osaka prefectural government will ask the central government on Thursday or Friday to extend the state of emergency in the prefecture. The prefectural government will hold discussions with the central government to determine the duration of the extension. Some prefectural government officials are calling for the emergency to be in place through the end of May.

The surge in new cases has not been subsiding in Osaka Prefecture since the current state of emergency was declared on April 25. The prefecture logged its highest daily tally on May 1, with 1,262 new cases.

The number of seriously ill patients has also been on the rise and surged past 400 for the first time on April 30. The prefecture has 361 hospital beds allocated for such patients.

“We’re facing an extremely serious situation. It would be hard to lift the state of emergency [on May 11],” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said on Tuesday at the prefectural government building.