Ahead of Japan’s renewed state of emergency, people still going out

Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via REUTERS
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a news conference announcing to extend a state of emergency on COVID-19 pandemic at prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 17, 2021.

Ahead of another state of emergency coming into effect Monday for a trio of Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures and Osaka, there has been little decline in the flow of people on city streets.

This is despite Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, during his announcement of the new state of emergency Friday evening, again urging people to refrain from going out for nonessential purposes.

The state of emergency already in place for Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture has been extended to Aug. 31, the same scheduled end date for the new emergency for Osaka, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.

“We shall consider measures with a determination that this time’s declaration will be the last,” Suga had said Friday.

On Saturday during the 3 p.m. hour, the number of people around Shinjuku and Shibuya stations in Tokyo barely changed compared to data a week ago, according to NTT Docomo, Inc.’s Mobile Spatial Statistics, which estimates population in specific areas using location information from mobile phones.

The same data showed that around Namba Station in Osaka, the number of people out rose slightly from a week ago.

Even at night in the Dotonbori area a short walk from Namba Station, a large number of people were strolling around.

A 53-year-old company employee from Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, said he came to the area to dine with friends.

“An emergency will be declared,” he said, “but I’m fed up because it’s just repeating the same thing over and over.”

A 20-year-old part-time worker from Naniwa Ward, Osaka, expressed a sense of urgency, however.

“Unless the flow of people is curbed as soon as possible, the number of infected people will continue to increase,” he said.