COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
|COVID-19 pandemic in Japan|
Confirmed cases per 100,000 residents by prefecture[a]
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Kanagawa Prefecture|
|Arrival date||16 January 2020|
(5 months and 3 weeks)
|Confirmed cases||18,615（as of 7 July 2020）|
|Active cases||1,012（as of 7 July 2020）|
|Recovered||16,631（as of 7 July 2020）|
|972（as of 7 July 2020）|
The COVID-19 pandemic in Japan is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was first confirmed to have spread to Japan in January 2020. Definitively reported cases have been recorded in each of the 47 prefectures except for Iwate. The country has seen over 17,000 confirmed cases.
Japan’s death rate per capita from coronavirus is one of the lowest in the developed world, more than 70 times lower than the UK and 40 times lower than the USA. Scientists have asked themselves what it is about Japan’s response to the coronavirus that has enabled such a low death rate. The government response, a milder strain of the virus, social effect caused by community immunity, cultural habits such as bowing etiquette or wearing face masks, hand washing with sanitizing equipment, a protective genetic trait, and a relative immunity conferred by the mandatory BCG tuberculosis vaccine have all been proposed as possible explanations.
The Japanese government confirmed its first outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country on 16 January 2020 in a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture who had returned from Wuhan, China. This was followed by a second outbreak that was introduced by travelling passengers and returnees from Europe and the United States between 11 March and 23 March. According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, the majority of viruses spreading in Japan derive from the European type while those of the Wuhan type have been disappearing since March.
The Japanese government has adopted various measures to prevent and mitigate the outbreak. On 30 January, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe established a national task force to oversee the government's response to the pandemic. On 27 February, he requested the temporary closure of all Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools until early April.
On 11 March, it was announced that Tokyo Disney Resort and USJ are extending their closure until further notice due to request of society. On 16 March, it was confirmed that almost 70% do not expect Tokyo Olympics to be held as scheduled. As the pandemic became a concern for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee negotiated its postponement until 2021, although complete cancellation is not out of the question.
On 7 April, Abe proclaimed a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka. On 16 April, the declaration was extended to the rest of the country for an indefinite period.
On 14 May, Japan released the registry to relieve the nationwide state of emergency COVID-19 in 39 of Japan's 47 prefectures or 54% of Japan's population, but it still applied in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Hokkaido, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama.
On 25 May, Japan ended the state of emergency in all of Japan.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan can be divided into two waves based on the genome sequence of the country's COVID-19 virus. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) has determined from its genetic research that the COVID-19 variant of the first wave is derived from the Wuhan type that is prevalent in patients from China and East Asia. After entering Japan in January through travellers and returnees from China, the virus resulted in numerous infection clusters across the country before moving towards its disappearance in March. Japanese medical surveillance confirmed its first case of the virus on 16 January in a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture who had returned from Wuhan.
The first wave was followed by a second one that originated from a COVID-19 variant of the European type that is traced back to early patients from France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Japanese medical surveillance detected the second wave on 26 March when the government's expert panel concluded the likelihood of a new outbreak caused by travellers and returnees from Europe and the United States between 11 March and 23 March. The NIID has established that the majority of viruses spreading in Japan since March is the European type. This has led it to conclude that the data "strongly suggests" that the Japanese government has succeeded in containing the Wuhan variant and that it is the European variant that is spreading across the country.
First wave (January–March)
On 16 January, Kanagawa Prefecture confirmed its first case of COVID-19 when a man in his 30s who had previously travelled to Wuhan tested positive for it, marking the first confirmed case in Japan.
On 24 January, Tokyo Metropolis confirmed its first case of COVID-19. The Japanese government announced that it would provide repatriation services for all Japanese citizens in Hubei Province on that same day. Officials negotiated with Chinese authorities to dispatch five chartered flights to Wuhan from 29 January to 17 February.
On 27 January, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe designated the novel coronavirus as an "designated infectious disease" under the Infectious Diseases Control Law. He also designated the disease as a "quarantinable infectious disease" under the Quarantine Act. On 30 January, Abe announced the establishment of a national task force to oversee the government's countermeasures against the novel coronavirus.
On 28 January, Nara Prefecture and Hokkaido Prefecture confirmed their first cases of COVID-19. On 29 January, Osaka Prefecture reported its first case on January 29, followed by Mie Prefecture and Kyoto Prefecture on 30 January, and Chiba Prefecture on 31 January.
On 1 February, a passenger of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who had disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January tested positive for COVID-19. The ship received quarantine orders from the Japanese government in Naha on that same day.
On 3 February, the Japanese government announced entry restrictions for all foreign citizens who had had a travel history to and from Hubei Province or had a Chinese passport issued from there. The Diamond Princess arrived at Yokohama and was placed under quarantine by the Japanese government on the same day.
On 19 February, the Japanese government completed testing 3,011 passengers on the Diamond Princess.
On 20 February, Saitama Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture confirmed their first cases of COVID-19. Ishikawa Prefecture and Kumamoto Prefecture reported their first cases on 21 February, followed by Tochigi Prefecture on 22 February, Nagano Prefecture and Tokushima Prefecture on 25 February, and Gifu Prefecture on 26 February.
On 21 February, the Japanese government began disembarking passengers from the Diamond Princess.
On 28 February, Hokkaido Prefecture declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus and requested its residents to refrain from going outside. Shizuoka Prefecture confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on that same day.
On 1 March, Hyogo Prefecture confirmed its first case of COVID-19. Ehime Prefecture reported its first case on 2 March, followed by Oita Prefecture on 3 March, Yamaguchi Prefecture and Miyazaki Prefecture on 4 March, Shiga Prefecture on 5 March, Akita Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture on 6 March, and Hiroshima Prefecture, and Gunma Prefecture on 7 March.
On 2 March, nearly all prefectures began shutting schools Monday in a bid to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus in Japan, four days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe surprised many with a request for schools to be closed countrywide until early April. By paying up to 8,330 yen ($77) a day per worker for paid leave between Feb. 27 and March 31, the ministry hopes to help companies compensate workers for income losses. Furthermore, the criteria for employment subsidies have been eased for those that have been affected by the pneumonia-causing virus to include non-regular employees as well.
On 4 March, The Japan High School Baseball Federation said Wednesday it is preparing to hold the national high school baseball invitational tournament behind closed doors due to the spread of the new coronavirus, while also mulling possible cancellation of the meet.
On 5 March, Japan announced quarantine restrictions for all visitors arriving from China and South Korea. On 6 March, the South Korean government protested the restrictions by suspending visas for all Japanese citizens travelling to South Korea.
On 6 March, Some e-learning program providers are offering their services for free to help students keep up with their studies while schools in Japan remain closed over the coronavirus outbreak. Major comic book publishers, meanwhile, are taking the same step to keep students entertained, with the government calling on students to remain indoors before schools reopen in early April at the earliest.
On 10 March, Japan on Tuesday adopted a fresh 1 trillion yen ($9.6 billion) level emergency package for businesses battered by the new coronavirus outbreak, featuring 500 billion yen in zero-interest loans for small and midsize companies short of cash due to sharp falls in sales. The stimulus measures, which entail 430.8 billion yen in actual spending under the fiscal 2019 budget, also include providing 4,100 yen a day in subsidies for freelance workers who are forced to give up work to take care of their children amid school closures following the outbreak.
On 10 March, the Japanese government categorized the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan as a historical emergency situation. Additionally, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday requested that big sports and cultural events in Japan be canceled or postponed for 10 more days as the government needs more time to gauge the effectiveness of its measures to contain the new coronavirus.
On 13 March, Saga Prefecture confirmed its first case of COVID-19. Nagasaki Prefecture reported its first case on 14 March, followed by Ibaraki Prefecture and Kagawa Prefecture on 17 March, and Fukui Prefecture on 18 March.
On 16 March, the Japanese government announced it would expand entry restrictions to all foreign citizens arriving from four additional countries. The restrictions applied to three areas in Spain (including Madrid), four areas in Italy (including the northern region of Liguria), Switzerland's Ticino region, and all of Iceland.
On 19 March, the governors of Osaka and Hyogo prefectures asked residents to avoid nonessential travel between the two neighbouring prefectures over the three-day weekend starting on 20 March to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The three-week state of emergency in Hokkaido was lifted on that same day.
On 22 March, Okayama Prefecture confirmed its first case of COVID-19 and requested its residents to refrain from visiting the neighboring prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka. Aomori Prefecture reported its first case on 23 March, followed by Gifu Prefecture on 26 March.
On 23 March, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike warned residents that a lockdown might be the only way against the disease if infections were to surge in Tokyo as she urged people to cooperate with government countermeasures.
On 24 March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced a one-year postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Second wave (March–present)
On 25 March, MHLW officials announced 71 people tested positive, including 41 cases in Tokyo. Governor Yuriko Koike held an emergency press conference in the late afternoon. She said that "the current situation is a serious situation where the number of infected people may explode." Koike also asked "if possible, work at home and refrain from going out at night as much as possible on weekdays." Koike asked people returning from abroad to refrain from going out for 14 days. The request from the governor appears to have punctured the relaxed mood in Tokyo. Panic buying began to trend on Twitter, with users posting pictures of empty shelves and lines outside supermarkets. At the Don Quijote store in Nakameguro, customers hurried to grab instant noodles and canned goods immediately following Koike's late-evening speech.
On 26 March, several governors of the Greater Tokyo Area, including Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Yamanashi, strongly urged residents to follow stay-at-home requests to prevent a surge in infections that could cause a "critical phase". In Tokyo, residents were asked to work from home and refrain from going out at night and on the weekend.
On 28 March, Abe held an hour-long press briefing about the economic measures being prepared by the Japanese government amid considerable concerns of an "explosive spread of overflowing infections", which was creating regional self-isolation requests around Japan, including in Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, and Aichi. Abe's wife became the centre of controversy when she was accused of attending a hanami party during the pandemic. Abe denied the claim and said she merely took pictures in front of some cherry trees after going to a restaurant.
On 29 March, MHLW officials announced 194 people had tested positive for the virus, including 58 people at a facility for the disabled in Tōnoshō, Chiba Prefecture, and 63 in Tokyo. However, a Tokyo municipal government official acknowledged by the end of the day that 63 people in the city tested positive for COVID-19 on 28 March and that a record number of 68 people tested positive on 29 March. It was also revealed that Tokyo now had 430 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the largest among Japan's 47 prefectures.
On 30 March, it was announced that tarento and comedian Ken Shimura had died at the age of 70 from complications of a COVID-19 infection. This marked the first major death from the pandemic in Japan's entertainment industry.
On 30 March, Fukuoka City announced confirmed cases in a woman in her 20s and her infant daughter. On 30 March, Toyama prefecture announced its first case, and a Kyoto government official announced that the Kyoto Sangyo University had undergone "a cluster of infections"—including two students who had recently returned from travel to Europe.
As of 31 March, Tokyo on Tuesday reported a record daily increase of 78 new infections, raising its total to 521. Of that number, 10 cases are from what authorities believe is a cluster infection at Eiju General Hospital in Taito Ward. Tokyo reported seven deaths among infected residents Tuesday.
On 1 April, The government established Wednesday a team within the secretariat of the National Security Council tasked with crafting Japan's strategic response to the coronavirus crisis while improving its competitiveness in the technology and economic spheres. Specifically, the team is planned to focus on overcoming the novel coronavirus epidemic as well as driving Japan's development in the fields of artificial intelligence and 5G wireless, especially in the face of the United States' and China's race for supremacy in the technologies.
The Immigration Services Agency of Japan said Friday it will extend for three months the deadline for foreigners to renew their period of stay in a bid to alleviate congestion at immigration counters amid the coronavirus outbreak. At present, immigration counters nationwide are crowded with foreigners, including short-term stayers, who are applying for extensions of their stay in Japan, with some of them unable to return home due to tighter border control across the globe.
On 3 April, Japan expanded its entry ban, effectively barring entrance to the country for visitors from 73 countries and regions.
On 4 April, at least 118 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Tokyo on Saturday, the first time the daily increase has topped 100, the metropolitan government said, in a development that could raise pressure on Japan to declare a state of emergency. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been widely seen as cautious about declaring an emergency despite spiking infections in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka and growing calls from medical experts to do so due to fears the country's health care system could collapse.
On 6 April, The Tokyo metropolitan government on Monday reported 83 new coronavirus cases following two days of three-digit increases, as it continues to grapple with a recent spike in the number of infections. The metropolitan government planned to begin transferring patients with mild or no symptoms from hospitals to designated hotels and other lodging facilities on Tuesday as it wants to prioritize treatment for patients with severe symptoms.
On 7 April, Abe proclaimed a state of emergency from 8 April to 6 May for Tokyo and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. He also said there would be no lockdown like in other countries, and that public transportation and other services needed to keep the economy and society going would be maintained as much as possible. This was the first emergency declaration in Japan. Abe also stated that the pandemic had created the nation's greatest economic crisis since the end of World War II.
On 8 April, Tokyo confirmed 144 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, a record daily high, metropolitan government officials said. Of the 144 infections confirmed Wednesday, 95, or more than 60 percent, had no clear infection routes, the officials said. The total number of infections confirmed in Tokyo now stands at 1,338, with 1,231 people hospitalized and 35 deaths from the pneumonia-causing virus as of Tuesday evening.
On 10 April, Nippon Professional Baseball and the pro soccer J-League on Friday abandoned plans to play in April, while declining to say when their coronavirus pandemic-affected seasons could resume. Prior to their internal meetings on Friday, NPB executives and their J-League counterparts met with a panel of medical experts in the fifth sitting of the task force they jointly formed to keep abreast of the health crisis.
On 11 April, A total of 197 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Tokyo on Saturday, a record daily increase for the fourth straight day, the metropolitan government said. The figure topped the previous record of 189 marked Friday, bringing the total number of infections in the capital to more than 1,900. The latest figure for the pneumonia-causing virus infection in the capital comes as these prefectures entered their first weekend under a state of emergency.
A second wave of infections hit Hokkaido, prompting the prefectural government to declare a second state of emergency that closed schools and that asked residents to avoid non-essential trips.
On 16 April, the Japanese government expanded the state of emergency to include all 47 prefectures in Japan. The government also announced a plan to give 100,000 yen to every registered resident of Japan.
According to a National Police Agency of Japan confirmed report, 73 police officers had tested positive since February, and there were an additional 15 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 from March found in people who had died outside hospitals, mainly most of people who were homeless and had been tested after death due to limited testing.
On 27 April, minister Yasutoshi Nishimura was criticized for getting tested for the virus before other people who were showing symptoms. He took the test after a person in the response team he is part of tested positive for the virus, though he claimed to have not been in direct contact with the infected person.
On 30 April, PM Abe announced on Thursday that Japanese authorities are struggling to increase testing to those suspected of being infected with coronavirus.
On 1 May, smaller towns and villages began distributing the 100,000 yen stimulus payment to residents. Larger municipalities are expected to follow suit within the next two months.
On 3 May, at the event held by the Japanese conference, Prime Minister Abe announced through a video that he intends to revise Japan's peace constitution in order to deal with the resolute infectious disease. On this topic, the Constitutional Democratic Party leader Yukio Edano underscored Japan has the basic law on disaster management that also restricts private rights during the time of emergency and allows authorities to implement essential measures, saying the law can be applied in efforts to contain the coronavirus. At a news conference on Friday, Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki expressed that even after the coronavirus situation has calmed down, the constitutional amendment can proceed in a quiet environment. Komeito, the LDP ’s coalition partner, is also cautious about hasty talks on revising the Constitution. “It ’s important to hold discussions on constitutional issues in a calm manner,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said on Thursday.
On 4 May, the Japanese government decided to extend the nationwide state of emergency established in April until the end of May. The prime minister said the number of new infections have slowed in recent days, but not enough to lift the state of emergency. The Japanese government urged citizens in Japan to adopt a "new lifestyle" for a protracted fight against coronavirus, even after society begins to shift back to its normal state. The prime minister also stated that the government will reassess the situation after a meeting with members of its expert panel around May 14.
As of 6 May, before Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura announced his own standards for Osaka Prefecture, which is named as "Osaka model", he expressed his desire for the Japanese government to clearly describe the requirements to lift the state of emergency. Later, Minister Nishimura said that the comments were somewhat confusing and that he would set standards later. Later, Yoshimura changed the critical tone of the remarks and apologize to the Minister Nishimura, on Twitter. However, he expressed his anxiety and disappointment with the government, strongly stating that he would reveal his beliefs as a politician.
On 8 May, The Japanese health ministry on Friday relaxed its guidelines for giving coronavirus tests to people who have developed a symptom of infection, scrapping the rigid fever rule which has been criticized for denying many potential patients access to the tests. At his May 8 news conference, health minister Katsunobu Kato explained that various directives were issued to prefectural governments about the guidelines after complaints about the difficulty in receiving a PCR test.
On 9 May, Economic and fiscal policy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that the government may lift the emergency for some prefectures before its expiration. Later on 10 May, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Kato Katsunobu referred to employment subsidies for businesses that do not fire their employees despite a drop in sales.
On 11 May, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced plans to approve a COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit that produces results more quickly than the current PCR test. On that same day, Yuriko Koike revealed that there was a miscount of confirmed infection which led to the inaccurate statistics falsely, as there were overlapping figures gathered during the overloaded paperwork.
In the midst of this, criticism and concern are growing as there is not enough discussion about increasing the supply of the coronavirus test, and the issue of the extension of the retirement age of the prosecutor Kurokawa is being led by the Abe Cabinet. Yukio Edano insisted that it was not right for the Japanese government to push the bill through turmoil during a disaster like a thief in a fire scene. A few days later, Japanese Government and Abe Cabinet declared that they would rescind the legal change of prosecutor's retirement.
On 14 May, Japanese government officials and PM Shinzo Abe declared that they had decided to suspend the emergency of 39 prefectures, except for 4 prefectures in Kanto, 3 prefectures in Kinki, and Hokkaido, which are feared of collapse of medical system. At the press conference, Prime Minister Abe urged to be vigilant even if the emergency was lifted, citing examples from South Korea, Germany, and Singapore as comparison targets. It was the day after the news was reported widely that a sumo wrestler in his 20s died after suffering from a viral infection for a month.
On 21 May, the state of emergency is lifted in 3 prefectures in the Kinki region after they had cleared the threshold of having new infections below 0.5 per 100,000 people in the past week, resulting a total of 42 out of the 47 prefectures to be out of the state of emergency.
On 25 May, PM Shinzo Abe has announced he's lifting the government's emergency declaration for the five prefectures where it's still in place.
On 28 May, a 117.1 trillion yen relief package was approved by Abe and his cabinet. The purpose of the package is to provide financial relief for companies and individuals that have been struggling due to the impact of the virus.
On 28 May, the number of infected people in Kitakyushu has risen to 22 in the past 5 days, and the infection route of 17 of them is unknown.
On 30 May, in Kitakyushu City, 69 people have been confirmed to have been infected in 7 days from the 23rd to the 29th of this month, and the infection route of 27 of them is unknown.
On 31 May, City officials confirmed that Twelve people including six elementary and junior high school children tested positive for the novel coronavirus in this southwestern Japan city where infections are continuing to spread.
As of 6 June, Japanese economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that he would hold talks with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Sunday to discuss how to curb rising infections in Tokyo's nightlife districts while preventing the spread of the virus among young people and in nightlife districts.
As of 8 June, the lack of leadership has led to a decrease in the approval ratings of Prime Minister Abe, and it is reported that Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, who had a sense of distance from Senator Kishida, is in contact with former secretary Ishiba to recreate the Liberal Democratic Party's regime.
On 9 June, it was reported that Hosts forced to work to protect the livelihoods of employees despite virus risk even nightlife districts demonized over infection fears while grappling with virus impacts, because lack of financial support from government lead some night workers to work for their daily living, which could become political problem. Some experts expressed that there could be ponderous epidemic in Japan before end of June.
On 10 June, Organizers of the postponed Tokyo Games said Wednesday they have agreed with the International Olympic Committee to hold a "simplified" games next summer to ensure safety from the coronavirus and reduce the financial impact of the one-year delay.
As of 11 June, The Tokyo metropolitan government on Thursday lifted its warning about a possible increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the capital, moving a step closer to a full resumption of economic and social activities in the capital.
On 12 June, the organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics confirmed on Friday that it has not yet reached agreements to use about 20 percent of the venues for the postponed games next year. About 80% of the facilities needed for next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics have been lined up, the president of the organizing committee commented on Friday.
As of 12 June, Japan's health authorities reported 61 new cases of the coronavirus and three deaths on Friday. Meanwhile, Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo Co. said Friday that they are aiming to launch a clinical study of a genetic vaccine for the new coronavirus around March 2021.
As of 12 June, Japanese Authorities confirmed that they eased restrictions on returning after visiting outside of Japan due to humanitarian excuses such as calling of court, clinical treatment and family visits.
As of 13 June, Tokyo’s nightlife is beginning to rebound, as the metropolitan government lifts another raft of restrictions. Venues that have been closed since early April at the government’s request because of the coronavirus will be opening their doors once more. Operators of nightlife establishments were required to keep a record of their customers' names and contact information in sheets and requested to ensure social distancing rules as part of measures to contain the wide spread of the coronavirus, according to guidelines released by the government on Saturday.
On 14 June, NHK reported that Japan's daily cases recorded 54 cases including 7 cases in Hokkaido, 18 case related nightlife employees in Shinjuku district. As of 14 June, it was reported that Hokkaido has recorded 1170 total cases until 14 June. Among those cases, 956 people completed treatment and there are 736 people who have been counted as positively confirmed patients for the dignosed infection in Sapporo. In Kitakyushu City, two new cases of new coronavirus infection were confirmed on the 14th. It has been confirmed for three consecutive days in Kitakyushu City, and since the 23rd of last month, when infections have been confirmed one after another, the total number of confirmed infections has reached 154. Of these people, 69 cases have no known spreading route of infection.
As of 14 June, Japan's minister in charge of the nation's coronavirus response and the governor of Tokyo have agreed to cooperate on measures to curb the rising trend of coronavirus infections in the capital's nightlife districts. Nishimura Yasutoshi and Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko met on Sunday. The mayor of Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, Yoshizumi Kenichi, joined the meeting. Shinjuku is home to the Kabukicho district and other nightlife hubs.
As of 14 June, Business conditions at more than 20 percent of medical institutions in Japan have worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic, with doctors saying they have experienced dismissals, salary reductions and forced closures, according to a recent survey. Asked how they have been affected, 10 percent said in response to multiple choice questions their working hours had been reduced due to being on standby at home and changes in consultation times, while 9 percent said their salary had been reduced. The temporary closing of facilities or the consideration of such actions were each selected by 4 percent, while having workers laid off, being laid off themselves, or the contemplation of permanent closure were each selected by 1 percent of respondents. Only 26 percent responded in March that they thought the virus would take "two to three years" to contain or "never," but it rose to 40 percent in April and 54 percent in May.
Later at night of 14 June, NHK stations and Jiji press reported that Despite the Japanese government's efforts to tackle the new Coronavirus Infectious Disease, it was not calmed down, but rather showed signs of re-proliferation. It is the first time in Tokyo over 40 days since the 5th of last month that there are more than 40 new confirmed patients in Tokyo. Looking at the distribution of 17,529 Japanese, Chinese travellers, and returning patients infected with hCoV-2019 causing COVID-19 in Japan, 5,544 people in Tokyo accounted for over 30% of the total, and a PCR test (genetic amplification test) to confirm the fact of hCoV-2019 causing COVID-19 infection last 10 days (preliminary figure) was held a day based on 7,333 cases.
On 15 June, at least 72 new cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in 15 days a day in Japan. NHK reported that a total of 72 new confirmed persons, including 48 in Tokyo and 6 in Hokkaido and 1 in Kitakyushu, at 8:30 pm on the day. Among Kanto's Tokyo, Hokkaido's Sapporo, Fukuoka's Kitakyushu being the center of the spread, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike who stopped 'Tokyo Alert' system in just 10 days on June 12 became being evaluated that she did not prepare to prevent the infection of Shinjuku Kabukicho.
As of 17 June, Japan received an estimated 1,700 foreign travelers in May, an all-time low for the second consecutive month, amid the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Wednesday. It is the eighth consecutive monthly decline, as travel restrictions were imposed globally amid the spread of the virus, according to the preliminary data. Furthermore, Japan's exports and imports in May both posted the largest year-on-year drops in more than 10 years, reflecting rapidly weakened overseas demand as the coronavirus pandemic continued to slow economic activities globally, government data showed Wednesday. The goods trade deficit in May stood at 833.39 billion yen, marking the second straight month of red ink.
As of 18 June, the Japanese public came out as the least satisfied with government support to businesses amid the pandemic in a six-nation survey, with only 11 percent of respondents agreeing that support is getting through to the firms that need it. Meanwhile, due to complicated office procedures to confirm Japanese expatriates’ residency and prevent making duplicate payments, some fear it may take years to finish paying ¥100,000 per person to about 1.39 million Japanese living abroad.
On 18 June, NHK stations and several online media agencies reported that it was confirmed 41 cases with 22 cases of unknown route in Tokyo, 70 people in Japan, including 1 death in Hokkaido and Fukuoka, although Cabinet and Government stated that they were ready to relieve some of the preventive limitations on Friday.
On 19 June, Japanese Authorities relieved some of the preventive requirement against contagious transmission and released the transmission notification software for preparation of ponderous pandemic, which brought some doubt among people. On the other hand, Japanese Baseball League started the competition, as notification for modification were already announced several days ago. In the midst of 19 June, Japanese popular clothing retailer Uniqlo promoted facial mask, which led parade of consumers trying to buy the products.
As of 21 June, 56 new people were found infected with the new coronavirus. 35 people were infected in Tokyo, exceeding 30 for 4 consecutive days. Nine of them were found by a group inspection conducted by Shinjuku City at two host clubs. Moreover, in Osaka Prefecture, infections were confirmed in three males and females in their 20s and 30s, who are believed to have had a cluster. The total number of bar-related cases was 16.
As of 24 June, it was revealed that 55 new cases of new coronavirus were confirmed in Tokyo on the 24th. It will be the highest after the government declares an emergency. According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the number of new infections per day will be 50 or more for the first time in a month and a half since May 5 (57) during the long holiday period. The total number of infected people in Tokyo was 5,895. Approximately 20 of the 55 infected people are said to have undergone a group inspection conducted by Shinjuku City at restaurants and other places where entertainment is provided, and cases where infection was confirmed within the same staffing agency.
As of 24 June, it has been confirmed for two consecutive days in Kitakyushu City, and the number of confirmed infections has increased to 167 since the 23rd of last month. Meanwhile, Sapporo City and Otaru City announced on the 24th that a total of 10 people, 9 in Otaru City and 1 in Sapporo City, were newly infected with the new coronavirus. Among them, there were 5 cases related to aged people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, according to reports of local newspapers.
On 25 June, it was confirmed that Japanese Government would abolish the Expert Meeting without any signals, although members of Expert Meeting were not notified and some lawmakers of opposition parties are demanding the explanation of sudden abolishing process. Later on 29 June, Nishimura expressed regret for a remark he made. He said last week that he planned to abolish the expert panel and replace it with a newly set up subcommittee. He said that "abolish" was too strong a word.
As of 25 June, The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Thursday it had confirmed 48 new novel coronavirus infections, marking more than 40 cases daily for the second straight day. As of Wednesday, the weekly average of daily new cases stood at 37.9 with untraceable cases comprising 45.7 percent, while the total number of weekly cases had increased by 27 percent. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government had previously said they would consider reissuing business closure requests if the weekly average of new cases exceeded 50, more than half were untraceable and new cases had doubled in the span of a week.
As of 25 June, in Japan, 82 new coronavirus infections were confirmed during the day on the 25th. In particular, the number of new confirmed persons in Tokyo, the capital city, was 48, the second highest level after the emergency declaration issued by the Japanese government was lifted on the 25th of last month. According to Tokyo, 21 cases out of 48 people were employees and customers working in the entertainment district. Yasushi Nishimura, who is unexpectedly in charge of Japan's Economy, Finance and Renewal as Minister, said at a press conference on the day, "We have been analyzing the opinions of experts and repeating opinions." Governor Yuri Koike of Tokyo explained, "As experts analyzed, the number of benign patients is not increasing rapidly, and the number of hospitalized and severe patients is not increasing, so it is not a secondary epidemic."
As of 26 June, Tokyo confirmed 54 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus on Friday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said, reporting more than 40 cases daily for the third day in a row. Among them, there were 40 young people in their 20s and 30s, according to data prepared by local officials. Although the spread of disease remained under control since May 25th, it is 4 days in a row that there are over 30 cases confirmed positive for contract of disease. Additionally, the daily number of new coronavirus cases reported in Japan on Friday topped 100 for the first time since May 9, adding to signs that the epidemic is gaining strength since the country eased business and social restrictions.
As of 28 June, it was reported that Tokyo recorded 60 new coronavirus cases as fears of second wave increase. Despite the daily increase, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike rejected claims of a second wave in the host city of next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games. In terms of transmission surroundings, most of the cases were associated with entertainment facilities and public spaces such as schools and offices, according to major media outlets like NHK, NNN, JNN. For example, in Hokkaido, 14 customers who used the daytime singing snack bar in Otaru were confirmed positive for COVID-19 virus. Likewise, there were several positive cases related to entertainment facilities in Kanto and Osaka.
On 29 June, Yomiuri Shimbun reported that more people considers infection of hCoV-2019 would be transgression of the individual in Japan, quoting the survey of prof. Miura. Professor Miura said, "In Japan, there is a strong tendency to blame people who are supposed to be "victims" not only for corona, but for women suffering from demons, "it is worse to go out at midnight." There is also a possibility that such an awareness may lead to the idea that infection is regarded as the responsibility of the individual.”
As of 29 June, it was reported that Tokyo recorded 58 confirmed cases and Japan recorded over 100 people were confirmed positive for new coronavirus. Among them, from Tokyo area, 80% of people were in their 20s and 30s, there were 24 people who were believed to have transmitted the disease and over 30 cases were related to the nightlife district. In Tokyo, 54 people were found infected, exceeding 50 for five consecutive days. It is believed that the infection spread from the "night town" to the "home" during March-April when the infection spread in Tokyo. Furthermore, in Kanagawa Prefecture, 31 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease, including 26 employees of the same host club in Naka Ward, Yokohama.
As of 30 June, it was reported that Tokyo recorded 54 confirmed cases and Japan recorded over 130 people were confirmed positive for new coronavirus. Among them, from Tokyo area, there were 28 people who were believed to have transmitted the disease, and 15 cases were associated with the nightlife district. Of these, one in three metropolitan areas (Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama) occupied a total of 102 people. By age group, there are 16 people in their 20s, 10 people in their 30s, and 8 people in their 40s.
On 1 July, The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed 67 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since 87 were reported on May 4. Ten people were confirmed in Osaka Prefecture, since 12 people who had two spots per day, and only about a month and a half since May 13th. It was found that the number of people infected at night in downtown areas is increasing in Ikebukuro in Toshima Ward in addition to Shinjuku City. Of the 67 people infected in Tokyo on the 1st, 27 people were involved in the night town, of which 13 were in Ikebukuro, more than 10 in Shinjuku. When Minister Suga Yoshihide asked at the press conference on the possibility of re-releasing the emergency declaration, he said, "As the rate of increase increases again, there is a possibility that it will be released in the worst case."
On 2 July, Tokyo reported 107 new cases of the novel coronavirus Thursday, an alarming uptick that residents fear may push the central government to declare another state of emergency. It was the most, yet again, since the state of emergency was lifted in late May and the first time the number has hit triple digits in two months. Unfortunately for people within Kyushu region, Kagoshima City announced on July 2 that it has newly confirmed the infection with a new coronavirus in 9 men and women. On the other hand, Fukuoka Prefecture announced on the 2nd that four new coronavirus infections were confirmed. In terms of infected people, over 190 new cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed nationwide, it was the largest in post-emergency declaration released on May 25th. The number of infected people in Japan exceeds 190 for the first time in about two months since May 3.
On 3 July, The Asahi Shimbun reported that The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare revealed on the 2nd that the number of people who had been dismissed or stopped (including prospects) due to the new coronavirus exceeded 30,000 as of the 1st. The pace of increase has slowed somewhat, but the spread of employment damage has not subsided even after the government's declaration of an emergency was lifted. At the end of April, it was a little less than 4,000, but after that it increased sharply and exceeded 10,000 on three days later, May 21st. However, it is limited to the amount that the labor bureaus in each region could grasp, and it seems that there are more in reality.
On 3 July, Tokyo reported 124 new coronavirus cases on Friday, surpassing 100 for the second straight day. There has been growing public concern about a resurgence of rapid spread in the capital and surrounding prefectures in the Kanto region. Above all, Tokyo has revised the city’s guidelines on monitoring the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus. Among recent cases, many of the infected are young people in their 20s and 30s and those who have visited the nightlife areas in the capital, with many remaining asymptomatic. But despite the spike, the number of serious cases is declining and there was no need to reinstate the state of emergency that was lifted on May 25, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. Preventive measures have already pushed Japan’s economy into a recession in the first quarter, with a deeper contraction expected in the April-June quarter.
As of 11:30 pm on the 3rd, 250 new cases of domestically infected new coronavirus were confirmed. In Kagoshima prefecture, where 21 people have been confirmed so far, 30 new cases have been confirmed. Of these, 28 were those who visited a bar that Kagoshima City suspected to have an infected population. Koike again urged residents in the capital to refrain from visiting entertainment districts at night, especially congested establishments that are not well ventilated and where customers and staff come into close contact. “It’s clear there needs to be a renewed sense of urgency in Tokyo,” Koike said in a news conference Friday, during which she urged residents to practice further caution but stopped short of reimposing business closure requests or introducing new virus countermeasures.
On 4 July, Tokyo reported 131 new daily coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of people infected with the virus to over 20,000 in Japan, according to a local government official. Saturday's count comes as a growing number of the infections among young people have been traced to host and hostess bars and other nightlife destinations. As of 9:00 pm on the 4th, 262 new cases of domestically infected new coronavirus were confirmed. Reports are beginning to rise again in areas where infection has not been confirmed for some time. In Yamagata Prefecture, a new infection in a man in his 20s in Nanyo City was confirmed. The infection was confirmed in the prefecture since May 4, two months ago. In addition, 23 new infections were confirmed in Kagoshima, 17 in Osaka, and 9 in Kyoto. Twenty out of 23 people in Kagoshima prefecture are those who visited show pubs in Kagoshima City, who are believed to have been infected, and their contacts.
On 5 July, 208 new cases of new coronavirus were confirmed nationwide. It was the third consecutive day that the number of new infections exceeded 200. In Tokyo, the number of people infected with "downtown at night" such as host clubs and cabaret clubs is increasing. According to the city, 46 cases out of 111 people were related to the city at night, the Shinjuku area is 38 people, Ikebukuro area was 4 people. Of the people 111, are in their 20s and 30s in 73 people together, account for about 66 percent of the total. Also, of the 111 people, 58 are close contacts of people who have been confirmed to have been infected, and 53 have no known route of infection. New infections have also been confirmed around Tokyo, with 21 in Saitama, 20 in Kanagawa, and 7 in Chiba. As a result, this brought the total number of confirmed cases in Tokyo to 6,765.
The number of people infected with the new coronavirus was also confirmed in Kyushu on July 5th. Kagoshima Prefecture has confirmed 13 men and women in their teens and 50s. They were both visitors and contacts at a show pub in Kagoshima, where clusters were believed to have occurred. Nine new infections have been confirmed in Fukuoka Prefecture. Four of the men and women in their 20s and 50s in Fukuoka are members-only snacks in Fukuoka, where customers and employees have been confirmed to be infected. A total of seven people were infected with the shop, two employees and five customers, and the city believes a new cluster has occurred. This is the seventh case of cluster outbreak in the city. In Miyazaki, men in their 40s were also confirmed to be infected. It has been confirmed in Miyazaki Prefecture since April 11.
On 6 July, 176 new cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed in Japan. The number of new infections in Tokyo was 102, exceeding 100 for the fifth consecutive day. In addition, there were 16 people in Saitama, 11 people in Kanagawa, and 12 people in Kagoshima. At the same day, revamped government expert panel gave the go-ahead to the plan to take a further step away from emergency mode, on the premise that preventive measures against the virus are taken, said economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the government's coronavirus response.
On July 7th, 106 new cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed in Tokyo, according to a report from the Tokyo metropolitan government. The number of people infected per day in Tokyo exceeded 100 for the sixth straight day, and the average number of people infected per week exceeded 100. In response to the increase in the number of people infected in Tokyo, Yuriko Koike asked Tokyo residents to refrain from moving outside the city without any urgent need since July 4th. According to a summary article of nationwide infected peole in the Mainichi Shimbun, 214 new coronavirus cases were confirmed nationwide on July 7. There are 20,866 people infected in Japan, including cruise ship passengers. One person died in Saitama and Chiba prefectures, with a total of 993 dead. Recent cases of infection in Tokyo are not only related to downtown areas in their 20s and 30s, but also have many cases where routes are unknown. On July 7th, there were 27 new infections in Saitama, 12 people in Osaka, 11 people in Chiba, 9 people in Kanagawa, Kyoto and Kagoshima.
Phase 1: Containment
The initial response of the Japanese government to the COVID-19 outbreak was a policy of containment that focused on the repatriation of Japanese citizens from Wuhan, the point of origin of the pandemic, and the introduction of new border control regulations.
On 24 January, Abe convened the Ministerial Meeting on Countermeasures Related to the Novel Coronavirus at the Prime Minister's Office with members of his Cabinet in response to a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirming human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. Abe announced that he would introduce appropriate countermeasures to the disease in coordination with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).
On 27 January, Abe designated the new coronavirus as an "infectious disease" under the Infectious Diseases Control Law (感染症の予防及び感染症の患者に対する医療に関する法律), which allows the government to order patients with COVID-19 to undergo hospitalization. He also designated the disease as a "quarantinable infectious disease" under the Quarantine Act, which allows the government to quarantine people suspected of infection and order them to undergo diagnosis and treatment.
On 30 January, Abe announced the establishment of the "Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters" (新型コロナウイルス感染症対策本部), which meets at the Prime Minister's Official Residence and is run by a task force led by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management Okita Yoshiki. The initial roster of the task force includes 36 high-ranking bureaucrats from several of the Ministries of Japan. The headquarters acts as the site of Abe's decision-making process on the country's virus countermeasures.
On 31 January, Abe announced that the government was prioritizing the repatriation of Japanese citizens from Hubei province. Officials negotiated with Chinese authorities to dispatch five chartered flights to Wuhan from 29 January to 17 February.
On 1 February, the Japanese government enacted restrictions to deny entry to foreign citizens who had visited Hubei province within 14 days and to those with a Chinese passport issued from there. On 12 February, it expanded those restrictions to anyone who had a recent travel history to and from Zhejiang province or had a Chinese passport issued from there.
On 5 February, Abe invoked the Quarantine Act to place the cruise ship Diamond Princess under quarantine in Yokohama. Quarantine officers were dispatched to the ship to prevent the disembarkation of crew and passengers, and to escort infected patients to medical facilities.
Reinforcement of medical service system
After the COVID-19 outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, the Japanese government shifted its focus from a containment policy to a prevention and treatment one because it anticipated increasing community spread within Japan. This policy prioritized the creation of a COVID-19 testing and consultation system based on the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) and the government's 83 existing municipal and prefectural public health institutions that is separate from the civilian hospital system. The new system handles the transfer of COVID-19 patients to mainstream medical facilities to facilitate patient flow, triage, and the management of limited testing kits on their behalf to prevent a rush of infected and uninfected patients from overwhelming healthcare providers and transmitting diseases to them. By regulating COVID-19 testing at the national level, the Abe Administration integrated the activities of the national government, local governments, medical professionals, business operators, and the public in treating the disease.
On 1 February, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare instructed the municipal and prefectural governments to establish specialized COVID-19 consultation centres and outpatient wards at their local public health facilities within the first half of the month. Such wards would provide medical examinations and testing for suspected carriers of the disease to protect general hospitals from infection.
On 5 February, Abe announced that the government would begin preparations to strengthen COVID-19 testing capabilities at the NIID and 83 municipal and prefectural public health institutions that are designated by the government as official testing sites. Without a uniform diagnosis kit for the disease, the government has relied on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to check for infections. As few mainstream medical facilities in Japan can conduct PCR tests, Abe also promised to increase the number of institutions with such kits, including universities and private companies.
On 12 February, Abe announced that the government would expand the scope of COVID-19 testing to include patients with symptoms based on the discretion of local governments. Previously, testing was restricted to those with a history of travelling to Hubei Province. On the same day, the Ministry of Health and NIID contracted SRL Inc to handle PCR clinical laboratory testing. Since then, the government has partnered with additional private companies to expand laboratory testing capabilities and to work towards the development of a rapid testing kit.
On 14 February, Abe introduced the government's coronavirus consultation system to coordinate medical testing and responses with the public. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare worked with local governments to establish 536 consultation centres (帰国者・接触者相談センター) that covered every prefecture within the country to provide citizens with instructions on how to receive COVID-19 testing and treatment. The general public needs to contact a consultation centre by phone to get tested at one of the government's specialized outpatient wards (帰国者・接触者外来).
On 16 February, Abe convened the government's first Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting (新型コロナウイルス感染症対策専門家会議) at the Prime Minister's Office to draft national guidelines for COVID-19 testing and treatment. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Wakita Takaji, Director of the NIID, who brought together ten public health experts and medical professionals from across Japan to coordinate a response to the virus with Abe and the government's coronavirus task force in a roundtable format. The main concern of the Japanese medical establishment was overcrowding of hospitals by uninfected patients with light cold symptoms who believed that they had COVID-19. Medical representatives claimed that such a panic would strain medical resources and risk exposing those uninfected patients to the disease itself.
On 17 February, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare released national guidelines for COVID-19 testing to each of the municipal and prefectural governments and their public health centres. It instructed doctors and public health nurses who staff the consultation centres to limit consultations to people with the following conditions: (1) cold symptoms and a fever of at least 37.5 °C (or need to take antipyretic medication) for over four days; and (2) extreme fatigue and breathing difficulties. The elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, and pregnant women with cold symptoms can receive consultation if they have had them for two days.
On 22 February, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced that the Japanese government was looking into the use of favipiravir, an anti-influenza medication developed by Fujifilm, to treat patients with COVID-19. The company responded by increasing production of the drug, providing technical support to clinical researchers, and distributing the drug to hospitals where its use has been approved by the government for emergency purposes.
Phase 2: Mitigation
On 23 February, Abe instructed the government's coronavirus task force to quickly draft a comprehensive basic policy. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato reconvened the medical experts from the first Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting on 24 February to draft this policy. During the meeting, the medical establishment presented its policy recommendations in the form of a views report (Japanese: 新型コロナウイルス感染症対策の基本方針の具体化に向けた見解), concluding that the most important objective must be the prevention of large-scale disease clusters and a decrease in outbreaks and deaths. They stated that it would not be possible for the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Japan on a person-to-person basis, but that it might be possible to regulate the overall speed of infection. They cited the next week or two as a "critical moment" determining whether the country would experience a large cluster that could result in the collapse of the medical system and socio-economic chaos. After reviewing and discussing the existing data on the disease, the committee stated that universal PCR testing was impossible due to a shortage of testing facilities and providers, and recommended that the government instead limit the application of available test kits to patients that are at a high risk of complications in order to stockpile for a large cluster. Participants also noted that Japan's medical facilities are vulnerable to "chaos," noting that many hospital beds and resources in the Tokyo area were already being used to care for the 700 infected patients from the Diamond Princess. They reiterated their warning that a rush of alarmed, uninfected outpatients with light symptoms of the disease could overwhelm hospitals and turn waiting rooms into "breeding grounds" of COVID-19.
On 25 February, the Abe Administration introduced the "Basic Policies for Novel Coronavirus Disease Control" (Japanese: 新型コロナウイルス感染症対策の基本方針) based on advice from the expert meeting. After a spike of infections in Italy, Iran, and South Korea, Abe decided that the government's disease countermeasures would prioritize the prevention of large-scale clusters in Japan. This included controversial requests to suspend such large-scale gatherings as community events and school operations, as well as to limit patients with light cold symptoms from visiting medical facilities to prevent them from overwhelming hospital resources.
First, the new policies advised local medical institutions that it is better for people with mild cold-like symptoms to rely on bed rest at home, rather than seeking medical help from clinics or hospitals. The policy also recommended that people at a higher risk of infection – including the elderly and patients with pre-existing conditions – avoid hospital visits for non-treatment purposes, such as by ordering prescriptions over the telephone instead of in person.
Second, the new policies allowed general medical facilities in areas of a rapid COVID-19 outbreak to accept patients suspected of infection. Before this, patients could only get tested at specialized clinics after making an appointment with consultation centres to prevent the transmission of the disease. Government officials revised the previous policy after acknowledging that such specialized institutions would be overwhelmed during a large cluster.
Third, the policy asked those with any cold symptoms to take time off from work and avoid leaving their homes. Government officials urged companies to let employees work from home and commute at off-peak hours. The Japanese government also made an official request to local governments and businesses to cancel large-scale events.
On 27 February, Abe requested the closure of all schools from 2 March to the end of spring vacations, which usually conclude in early April. The next day, the Japanese government announced plans to create a fund to help companies subsidize workers who need to take days off to look after their children while schools are closed.
On 27 February, the Japanese government also announced plans to expand the national health insurance system so that it covers COVID-19 tests.
On 9 March, the Ministry of Health reconvened the Expert Meeting after the two week "critical moment." The panel of medical experts concluded that Japan was currently not on track to experience a large-scale cluster, but stated that there is a two-week time lag in analysing COVID-19 trends and that the country would continue to see more infections. Consequently, the participants asked the government to remain vigilant in quickly identifying and containing smaller clusters. With more COVID-19 outbreaks around the world, the panel also proposed that new infections from abroad could initiate a "second wave" of the disease in Japan.
On 9 March, the Health Ministry published a disease forecast for each prefecture and instructed local governments to prepare their hospitals to accommodate its patient estimates. It predicts that the virus peak in each prefecture would occur three months after the first reported case of local transmission. The Ministry estimates that at the peak Tokyo would see 45,400 outpatients and 20,500 inpatients per day, of whom 700 will be in severe condition. For Hokkaido, the figure is 18,300 outpatients and 10,200 inpatients daily, of whom about 340 will be in severe condition.
State of Emergency declaration
On 5 February, the Abe Administration's coronavirus task force initiated political debate on the introduction of emergency measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak a day after the British cruise ship Diamond Princess was asked to quarantine. Initial debate focused on constitutional reform due to the task force's apprehension that the Japanese Constitution may restrict the government's ability to enact such compulsory measures as quarantines on the grounds that it violated human rights. After lawmakers representing almost all of the major political parties – including the Jimintō, Rikken-minshutō, and Kokumin-minshutō – voiced their strong opposition towards this proposal and asserted that the Constitution allowed for emergency measures, the Abe Administration moved forward with legislative reform instead.
On 5 March, Abe introduced a draft amendment to the Special Measures Act to Counter New Types of Influenza of 2012 to extend the law's emergency measures for an influenza outbreak to include COVID-19. He met separately with the heads of five opposition parties on 4 March to promote a "united front" in passing the reforms. The National Diet passed the amendment on 13 March, making it effective for the next two years. The amendment allows the Prime Minister to declare a "state of emergency" in specific areas where COVID-19 poses a grave threat to the lives and economic livelihood of residents. During such a period, governors of affected areas will receive the following powers: (1) to instruct residents to avoid unnecessary outings unless they are workers in such essential services as health care and public transportation; (2) to restrict the use or request the temporary closure of businesses and facilities, including schools, social welfare facilities, theatres, music venues and sports stadiums; (3) to expropriate private land and buildings for the purpose of erecting new hospitals; and (4) to requisition medical supplies and food from companies that refuse to sell them, punish those that hoard or do not comply, and force firms to help transport emergency goods.
Under the law, the Japanese government does not have the authority to enforce citywide lockdowns. Apart from individual quarantine measures, officials cannot restrict the movement of people in order to contain the virus. Consequently, compliance with government requests to restrict movements is based on "asking for public cooperation to ‘protect people’s lives’ and minimize further damage to [the economy]".
On 25 March, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced that the daily number of confirmed cases in Tokyo increased from 17 to 41 cases compared to the day before. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held an emergency press conference in the late afternoon, stating that "the current situation is a serious situation where the number of infected people may explode." She requested residents to refrain from nonessential outings during the upcoming weekend.
On 26 March, the Ministry of Health reconvened the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting to review the new data. The panel of medical experts concluded that there was a "high probability of an expansion of infections" within the country due to an increase in the number of infected patients returning from Europe and the United States between 11 March and 23 March. In response to the statement, Abe instructed Economic Policy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura to establish a special government task force to combat the spread of the virus. The move cleared a prerequisite toward declaring a state of emergency because any request for one by the Prime Minister would have to be approved by such a task force under the revised law.
On 30 March, Koike requested residents to refrain from nonessential outings for the next two weeks due to a continued increase in infections in Tokyo. During a press conference held by the Japan Medical Association that same day, Kamayachi Satoshi of the government's panel of medical experts stated that his fellow panelists were divided over whether Abe should declare a state of emergency.
On 1 April, the Ministry of Health reconvened the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting to assess the current COVID-19 situation in Japan. The medical experts discussed the data and concluded that although such urban areas as Tokyo and Osaka were witnessing a rapid increase in infection rates, they were not on a trajectory to experience a large-scale cluster seen in Europe and the United States. Experts were still concerned that infected patients could overwhelm the medical service system before an explosive spread of the virus as COVID-19 designated hospitals in major cities reached near capacity. They requested the government to secure more hospital beds for patients and transfer those with mild or no symptoms to outside housing facilities.
On 2 April, the Ministry of Health issued a notice that urged non-critical COVID-19 patients to move out of hospitals and stay at home or at facilities designated by local governments. Prefectural governors across the country began arranging accommodation for such patients through hotel operators and dormitories and issued official requests to the Japan Self-Defense Force for transportation services.
On 3 April, Professor Nishiura Hiroshi of the Ministry of Health's Cluster Response Team presented the initial findings of his COVID-19 epidemiological models to the public. He concluded that the government could prevent an explosive spread of the virus in Japan if it adopted strict restrictions on outings that reduced social interactions by 80 percent, while such a spread would occur if the government adopted no measures or reduced social interactions by only 20 percent. Nishiura added that Tokyo was about 10 days to two weeks away from a large-scale outbreak.
On 7 April, Abe proclaimed a one-month state of emergency from 8 April to 6 May for Tokyo and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. He stated that the number of patients would peak in two weeks if the number of person-to-person contacts was reduced by 70 to 80 percent, and urged the public to stay at home to achieve this goal.
On 10 April, Koike announced closure requests for six categories of businesses in Tokyo. They include amusement facilities, universities and cram schools, sports and recreation facilities, theatres, event and exhibition venues. and commercial facilities. She also asked restaurants to limit opening hours to between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. and to stop serving alcohol at 7 p.m. The request was to take effect on 12 April and promised government subsidies for businesses that cooperated with it.
On 11 April, Professor Nishiura presented the remaining findings of his COVID-19 epidemiological models. He determined that reducing social interactions by 80 percent would decrease the COVID-19 infection rate to a manageable level in 15 days; by 70 percent in 34 days; by 65 percent in 70 days; and by 50 percent in 3 months. Any rate below 60 percent would result in an increase in the number of cases.
On 16 April, Abe expanded the state of emergency declaration to include every prefecture within the country.
Later on 4 May, Abe expressed that Japanese Cabinet would expand the state of emergency declaration until end of May. Then on 14 May, Abe and his cabinet declared that Japanese Government decided to relieve the state of emergency declaration, excluding 8 prefectures like Tokyo, Kyoto Prefecture. Some media expressed doubts about why only some of the easing standards were released under the name of comprehensive judgment.
On 21 May, the state of emergency is suspended in 3 prefectures in Kinki after they had cleared the threshold of having new infections below 0.5 per 100,000 people in the past week, resulting a total of 42 out of the 47 prefectures to be out of the state of emergency while 5 prefectures, such as Saitama, Kanagawa, Hokkaido, are waiting for lifting decision on May 25.
On 16 February, Abe convened the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting to incorporate members of the Japanese medical community into his decision-making process. The panel acts as the main medical advisory body of the Japanese government during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Okabe Nobuhiko (Director of the Kawasaki Municipal Institute of Public Health)
- Oshitani Hitoshi (Former Infectious Disease Control Advisor at the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office)
- Kamayachi Satoshi (Executive Board Member of the Japan Medical Association)
- Kawaoka Yoshihiro (Professor of Virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Tokyo)
- Kawana Akihiko (Professor of Internal Medicine at the National Defense Medical College)
- Suzuki Motoi (Director of the NIID Center of Infectious Disease Epidemiology)
- Tateda Kazuhiro (Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Disease at Toho University)
- Nakayama Hitomi (Social Worker and Lawyer at the Kasumigaseki-Sogo Law Offices)
- Muto Kaori (Professor of Cultural and Human Information Studies at the University of Tokyo)
- Yoshida Masaki (Professor of Internal Medicine at Jikei University School of Medicine)
Government support measures
On 12 February, Abe announced that the government would secure 500 billion yen for emergency lending and loan guarantees to small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. He also declared that his Cabinet would set aside 15.3 billion yen from contingency funds to facilitate the donation of isolated virus samples to relevant research institutions across the globe.
On 1 March, Abe evoked the Act on Emergency Measures for Stabilizing Living Conditions of the Public to regulate the sale and distribution of facial masks in Hokkaido. Under this policy, the Japanese government instructed manufactures to sell facial masks directly to the government, which would then deliver them to residents. On 5 March, the Japanese government announced that it is organizing an emergency package by using a 270 billion yen ($2.5 billion) reserve fund for the current fiscal year through March to contain the virus and minimize its impact on the economy.
Controversies and criticisms
On 17 February, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare asked people who have had a fever over 37.5 °C for more than four days or those who have lethargy and difficulty breathing worse than those for influenza to consult with the coronavirus-related Return and Contact Consultation Centres around the country to determine if they should get tested for novel coronavirus. However, some media outlets asserted that restrictive standards for testing would delay societal and public health responses, leading to the spread of the disease, which could later lead to the collapse of the health care system and the medically protected regional community.
In early February, Masahiro Kami, a hematologist, chairman of the Institute for Healthcare Governance, and outside director of SBI Pharma Co., Ltd. and SBI Biotech Co., Ltd., compared with Italy and criticized Japan's response to the cruise ship. Japan quarantined everyone for two weeks, and then tested them all twice before releasing them but Italy disembarked all passengers in 12 hours. Italy only tested two people who were ill and suspected of being infected, and they tested negative, they immediately released all the remaining 6000 passengers.
In late February, several Japanese media outlets reported that there were people with fever or other symptoms who could not be tested through the consultation centre system and had become "test refugees" (Japanese: 検査難民). Some of these cases involved patients with severe pneumonia. Hematologist Masahiro Kami claimed that many patients were denied testing due to their mild symptoms and criticized the Japanese government for setting testing standards that were too high and for lacking a response to patient anxiety.
On 26 February, the Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato stated in the National Diet that 6,300 samples were tested between 18 and 24 February, averaging 900 samples per day. Some representatives questioned the discrepancy between the actual number of people tested and the claim in the prior week that 3,800 samples could be tested per day.
On the same day, more doctors reported that public health centres had refused to test some patients. The Japan Medical Association announced that it would start a nationwide investigation and plan to cooperate with the government to improve the situation. The Ministry of Health also stated that it would look into the situation with the local governments.
The strict constraints on testing for the virus by Japanese health authorities drew accusations from critics such as Masahiro Kami that Abe wanted to "downplay the number of infections or patients because of the upcoming Olympics." It was reported that only a few public health facilities were authorized to test for the virus, after which the results could only be processed by five government-approved companies, which created a bottleneck forcing clinics to turn away even patients with high fevers. This has led some experts to question Japan's official case numbers. For example, Tobias Harris, of Teneo Intelligence in Washington, D.C., said: "You wonder, if they were testing nearly as much as South Korea is testing, what would the actual number be? How many cases are lurking and just aren't being caught?" Fact-checking in several media later proved that the news that the government had reduced the number of tests to curb the increase in the number of infected people for the Olympics was fake news.
Testing was still restricted to large hospitals in March 2020, with 52,000 tests, or 16% of the South Korean amount, performed that month. A decision to expand testing was made on 13 April 2020. There were many articles in March that criticized the number of PCR tests in Japan as very small compared to South Korea. However, the number of PCR tests in Japan at that time was actually not a few. According to data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japanese authorities conducted PCR tests of 10205 as of 13 March and 15655 as of 17 March, except for those returning from China by charter flights and passengers on the cruise ship. The number of tests in Japan seems to be very small compared to the countries with exorbitant tests such as China, South Korea and Italy, but it has never been smaller than the other countries.
On March 5, Japan announced that it will strengthen quarantine for new entrants from China and South Korea and add some areas of Iran to the target area. The Chinese government showed their understanding of the decision, but the Korean government blamed Japan violently, saying that these were "unreasonable and excessive measures."
There are various problems arising in connection with the Emergency Supplementary Income policies promoted by the Japanese government. At first, there were many obstacles to rapid driving force as the 300,000 yen per household policy was changed to the 100,000 yen per population policy. In addition, there are some uncomfortable parts that make it easier to evaluate postal delivery applications more faster than online applications. In the case of postal delivery, it is possible to apply for each household more smoothly, but when applying online, separate paperwork for inspection are required for each local government office. In addition, since the application process for management subsidies is complicated, there are also side effects of financial disadvantages for small business owners and individual business owners. The reason why the shortage of masks was difficult to eliminate and it took a long time to receive the benefits was that the Individual Number system, which was well known as My personal ID card Number System, was only used by about 16% of the population, meanwhile most of work could be handled without Individual Number system due to people's hesitation against privately problematic policy which gets into troublesome settlement for protection of private problem without supervision of government. The Individual Number is a system for the administration to identify individuals. Due to opposition from the opposition party and liberals who say that the national and local governments will get to know personal information, the Individual Number has not spread easily and is not obligatory to link with other personal information such as bank accounts. On this topic, Senetor Sanae Takaichi who leads Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications commented that they are considering to connect every single personal ID card Number and each single bank account for comfort usage of every citizen.
Moreover, Prime Minister Abe's cloth mask distribution policy is also problematic, so there is some lack of clarity in budgeting. Furthermore, one of the companies involved Mask supply production that are suspected ghost companies. Besides, the problem of maintaining quality, which was the trigger, remains under the government's burden, and the issue of tax waste is pointed out. The company that was suspected to be a dummy company in some media was a broker of a sole proprietor, and he had masks manufactured in Vietnam using locally procured materials and imported them. Originally, he was promoting masks to Fukushima and Yamagata prefectures, but the Ministry of Health and Welfare, who had trouble finding a mask supplier due to a sudden decision, bought them. Not only he, but also people and companies who were reported suspicious in the media or were rumored on social media were slandered online, and there were many nuisances to the company and their homes.
Likewise, there were several news reports that showed signs for missing numbers of infection statistics in Japan could be explained by other sources of statistics. Furthermore, there would be differences among several statistics of departments since there were several standards for statistics among regional directors and departments of Japanese Authorities using those statistics with other standards. As a result, despite of low death rate, there were some doubt that there would be missing fatality cases for COVID-19 pandemic among Japan due to low credibility of statistics in Japan as well as some medical professionals and media outlets have criticized the Japanese government for under-testing for COVID-19.
The medical task-force advising the government, known as the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting, has adopted a three-pronged strategy to contain and mitigate COVID-19 that includes (1) early detection of and early response to clusters through contact tracing; (2) early patient diagnosis and enhancement of intensive care and the securing of a medical service system for the severely ill; and (3) behaviour modification of citizens. Medical experts have prioritized COVID-19 testing for the first two purposes, while relying on the behaviour modification of citizens rather than mass testing to prevent the spread of the virus at a large-scale level.
Contact tracing against clusters
On 25 February, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare established the Cluster Response Team (Japanese: クラスター対策班) in accordance with the Basic Policies for Novel Coronavirus Disease Control. The purpose of the section is to identify and contain small-scale clusters of COVID-19 infections before they grow into mega-clusters. It is led by university professors Oshitani Hitoshi and Nishiura Hiroshi and consists of a contact tracing team and a surveillance team from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), a data analysis team from Hokkaido University, a risk management team from Tohoku University, and an administration team. Whenever a local government determines the existence of a cluster from hospital reports, the Ministry of Health dispatches the section to the area to conduct an epidemiological survey and contact tracing in coordination with members of the local public health centre. After the teams determine the original source of infection, the ministry and local government officials enact countermeasures to locate, test, and place under medical surveillance anybody who may have come into contact with an infected person. They can also file requests to suspend infected businesses or restrict events from taking place there.
From its contract tracing findings, the Ministry of Health discovered that 80% of infected people did not transmit COVID-19 to another person. The Ministry also determined that patients that did infect another person tended to spread it to multiple people and form infection clusters when they were in certain environments. According to one of the experts, Kawaoka Yoshihiro, "[This meant that] you don’t need to trace every single person who’s been infected if you can trace the cluster. If you do nothing, the cluster will grow out of control. But as long as you identify a cluster small enough to contain, then the virus will die out."
On 9 March, the medical experts reviewed the data from the Cluster Response Team's work and further refined its definition of a high-risk environment as a place with the overlapping "three Cs" (three crowdedness (Japanese: 三つの密, Hepburn: mittsunomitsu)): (1) closed spaces with poor ventilation; (2) crowded places with many people nearby; and (3) close-contact settings such as close-range conversations. They identified gyms, live music clubs, exhibition conferences, social gatherings, and yakatabune as examples of such places. The experts also theorized that crowded trains did not form clusters because people riding public transportation in Japan usually do not engage in conversations.
During times when the number of infected patients rises to such an extent that individual contract tracing alone cannot contain a COVID-19 outbreak, the government will request the broad closure of such high-risk businesses.
Reinforcement of the medical system
During the initial stages of the outbreak, medical experts recommended the government to focus COVID-19 testing for contact tracing purposes and patients with the following symptoms: (1) cold symptoms and a fever of at least 37.5 °C (or need to take antipyretic medication) for over four days; and (2) extreme fatigue and breathing difficulties. The elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, and pregnant women with cold symptoms could be tested if they had them for two days. The country's high number of computed tomography (CT) scanners (111.49 per million people) allows them to confirm suspicious pneumonia cases and begin treatment before testing them for COVID-19.
On 1 April, medical experts requested the government to secure more hospital beds for patients and transfer those with mild or no symptoms to outside housing facilities to focus treatment on the severely-ill.
Behaviour modification of citizens
The Japanese government's medical task-force anticipates multiple waves of COVID-19 to arrive in the country for at least the next three years, with each one prompting the public to engage in a cycle of restricting and easing movement. Under the current law, the Prime Minister can restrict movement by declaring a "state of emergency" in specific areas where COVID-19 poses a grave threat to residents. During such periods, the governors of affected areas can request citizens to avoid unnecessary outings and temporarily close certain businesses and facilities. Since the government cannot enact compulsory measures to enforce these requests, it has instead embarked on a social engineering program to train its citizens to comply with them on a voluntary basis during current and future state of emergencies.
To reduce person-to-person contact, the government has instructed the public to refrain from going to high-risk environments (the Three Cs: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings) and events involving movement between different areas of the country. It emphasized extreme caution when coming in contact with the elderly. The government also promoted such work-style reforms as teleworking and staggering commuting hours, while improving the country's distance learning infrastructure for children.
On 4 May, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare unveiled its program to create a "new lifestyle" (Japanese: 新しい生活様式) for the country's citizenry that is to be practiced everyday on a long-term basis. Several elements of the lifestyle include behavior changes demanded under the state of emergency, such as avoiding high-risk environments and long-distance travelling. However, the program expands these precautions to cover more mundane activities by requesting people to engage in such activities as wearing masks during all conversations, refraining from talking when using public transportation, and eating next to one another rather than facing one another.
The following are examples of the spread of infections for three of the eight regions in Japan.
The first case was identified in Hokkaido on 28 January 2020, and the first case of an infected person in Hokkaido was on 14 February. To limit the spread of infection, the governor of Hokkaido, Naomichi Suzuki, announced the Declaration of a New Coronavirus Emergency on 28 February, calling on locals to refrain from going out.
On 13 February 2020, three confirmed cases were announced in the Kanto region, and one case was confirmed in each of Kanagawa, Tokyo, and Chiba. On 6 March 2020, it was confirmed that 121 infected people were reported in 5 prefectures, including Tochigi and Saitama. On 21 March, a total of 136 people were identified as infected in Tokyo, and a total of 311 people were confirmed in the Kanto region.
The first case was identified in Aichi on 26 January 2020, and the first case of an infected person in Aichi was on 14 February. As the virus spread, Governor Omura of recognized that there were two clusters in the prefecture, mainly in Nagoya. He emphasised the need to work with the Nagoya City Government to prevent the spread of infection.
Abe said that "the new coronavirus is having a major impact on tourism, the economy and our society as a whole". Japan into recession. In Q1 2020 GDP there was 0.9 contraction, whereas in Q4 2019 GDP there was 1.9 contraction. Face masks have sold out across the nation and new stocks are quickly depleted. There has been pressure placed on the healthcare system as demands for medical checkups increase. Chinese people have reported increasing discrimination.
The aviation, retail and tourism sectors have reported decreased sales and some manufacturers have complained about disruption to Chinese factories, logistics and supply chains. Abe has considered using emergency funds to mitigate the outbreak's impact on tourism, 40% of which is by Chinese nationals. S&P Global noted that the worst hit stocks were for travel, cosmetics and retail companies, which are most exposed to Chinese tourism. Nintendo warned that delays on shipments of hardware and accessories for its Nintendo Switch video game console would be "unavoidable" due to the impact on its Chinese supply chain and manufacturing, and on 7 April announced that shipments to Japan would be delayed due to increased demand for the device.
On the same day the Nagoya Expressway Public Corporation announced plans to temporarily close some toll gates and let employees work from their homes after an employee staffing the toll gates was diagnosed positive for SARS-CoV-2. Due to personnel shortages, six toll gates on the Tōkai and Manba routes of the expressway network were closed over the weekend.
The outbreak has affected professional sports in Japan. Nippon Professional Baseball's preseason games and the Haru Basho sumo tournament in Osaka were announced to be held behind closed doors, while the J.League football and Top League rugby suspended or postponed play entirely. On the weekend of 29 February, the Japan Racing Association closed its horse racing meets to spectators and off-track betting until further notice, but continued to offer wagering by phone and online.
The outbreak expansion has affected sports schedule of school in Japan. Since these outbreaks led to concerns over the health risk of the students, sporting event, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, in school were suspended or postponed play entirely, due to unexpected postpone of education schedule by nationwide outbreaks, as well as other sports events decided to delay its season.
The expansion of COVID-19 into a global pandemic led to concerns over the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. In March, it was announced that the Games would be postponed by a year, for the first time in the history of the modern Olympics.
Two Yomiuri Giants players have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Central League team announced on June 3, casting a shadow over Nippon Professional Baseball's plan to start the 2020 season on June 19.
On 26 February, Abe suggested that major sporting, cultural and other events should be cancelled, delayed or scaled down for about two weeks amid the new coronavirus outbreak. As a result, J-pop groups Perfume and Exile cancelled their concerts scheduled that night at Tokyo Dome and Kyocera Dome Osaka, respectively, both of which have a capacity of 55,000. On 27 February, AnimeJapan 2020, originally scheduled to be held in Tokyo Big Sight in late March, was cancelled.
A number of major amusement parks announced temporary closures. On 28 February, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disney Resort were temporarily closed from 29 February. Universal Studios Japan also announced a closure the same day. By mid-March, some attractions began to partially reopen, with Huis Ten Bosch and Legoland Japan Resort reopening with limited services (outdoor attractions only, visitors subject to temperature checks before entering) on 23 March. However, the Disney parks and Universal Studios Japan delayed their re-openings until mid-to-late April. Later on July 1st, Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland reopened after they reported their plan on 25 June.
Affected by the shortage of outsourced staff due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many Japanese animated films and TV shows announced changes or postponed broadcasts due to production problems, including A Certain Scientific Railgun T (deferred for broadcast, changed to rebroadcast), Asteroid in Love, A3! (Delay extension), Kukuriraige -Sanxingdui Fantasy- (Delay extension), etc. On 31 March, TV Asahi announced that Rio Komiya, who plays Jūru Atsuta in the tokusatsu series Mashin Sentai Kiramager, had tested positive for COVID-19. While production had been suspended, it was stated that there were enough completed episodes to last through 10 May.
Not only anime series but also drama series have been silently refrained production to prevent the spread of infection, and most of telecasting stations are transmitting works from past years. In Nippon TV, the airing schedule of "The pride of the Temp", starring Ryoko Shinohara and Yo Oizumi, has been postponed, as well as the airing schedule of "Minwan Police", starring Kento Nakajima and Sho Hirano, has been postponed. In TBS Television, the airing schedule of "MIU404", starring Gen Hoshino and Gou Ayano, has been postponed, as well as the airing schedule for "Hanzawa Naoki 2", starring Masato Sakai and Mitsuhiro Oikawa, has been postponed. In Fuji TV, The schedule for airing the manga-based medical drama series in the second quarter, starring Satomi Ishihara and Nanase Nishino, has been postponed, as well as the airing schedule for "Suit Season 2", starring Yuto Nakajima and Yuko Araki, has been suspended. Meanwhile, NHK announced that the schedule for three drama series would be postponed under the influence of the new coronavirus. "The broadcast date will be announced on the program guide and website as soon as it is decided," said the station.
On April 19, 2020, TV Tokyo, MediaNet & ShoPro announced that the Pokémon anime series will be going on hiatus, with production temporarily suspended. Reruns of old episodes began airing on April 26, 2020; the staff will reveal at a later date when new episodes will return. In addition, production for the Toei anime shows were suspended due to the pandemic after the episodes aired including Healin' Good PreCure (Episode 12) and Digimon Adventure: (Episode 3). As of 19 April 2020, Fuji TV, Toei Animation confirmed that the One Piece anime series will be going on recess, with production temporarily postponing new episodes and reruns of older episodes taking its place. On April 26, 2020, Nippon Animation announced on Saturday that the broadcast of new anime episodes of Chibi Maruko-chan anime series has been suspended for the time being due to disease outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in Tokyo, Japan. As a side note, at the time of April 26, 2020, there were a number of anime series with production pauses due to difficulties in supply and production, including some series like Black Clover, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, Duel Masters King, Kingdom (Season 3), Major 2nd Season 2.
On 27 February 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools close until early April to help contain the virus. This decision came days after the education board of Hokkaido called for the temporary closure of its 1,600 public and private schools. Nursery schools were excluded from the nationwide closure request. As of 5 March, 98.8 per cent of all municipally run elementary schools have complied with Abe's request, resulting in 18,923 school closures.
Along with the school suspension, the online education was being piloted in some areas where the health crisis was not severe, but there was a concern that the education gap was widening in each region due to the limited online environment in Japan. Due to the sudden public health crisis, school closures are taking place in the middle of school, and education gaps in each region and childcare problems in the home have led to difficulties in education. While there are promising plans to postpone the start of the new semester to September, centered on local politics, there are also opinions that some require careful approach to changing the semester system. Those who promotes semester change into September are pursuing a new semester change on the basis of bridging regional gaps and meeting world standards, and those who ponders semester change argue that the online education environment needs to be rapidly updated by region before the semester change.
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Due to prejudice and ignorance, social harassment is expanding in relation to infectious diseases. Because of their worries about being contracted, the number of cases where medical personnel's family commuting is restricted or people around the infected person are disturbed has increased. In addition, there are increasing cases where small business owners, who were inevitably operating, are forced to take self-sufficiency by neighbours who feel anxious and deprived.
While telecommuting is being encouraged, videoconferencing is also increasing the number of psychological pressures caused by authoritarian attitudes and sexual harassment. The negative effects of telecommuting also exacerbated the problem of privacy infringement, leading to exposure of privacy in the workplace and social pressure. Some companies have compulsory video conference participation rules, with public request of active reactions and optimistic expressions.
As the number of telecommuting cases increased, the number of working hours in the homes of workers increased, causing conflicts between women and men. In some cases, the number of cases of domestic violence has also increased by increasing discord among families.
Aid to China
On 26 January, Japanese people donated a batch of face masks to Wuhan. According to the Liberty Times of Taiwan, these were actually purchased by China, but Japanese media and the Japanese Consulate General in Chongqing stated that it was a donation.
On 10 February, the Liberal Democratic Party's Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said that the party would deduct 5,000 yen from the March funds from members of the party to provide mainland China with support.
Festivals and contests
The following major festivals were cancelled:
The following major fireworks events were also cancelled or considered to be postponed:
The following festivals were postponed:
- 2020 Sanja Matsuri Festival (三社祭), originally scheduled for 15–17 May, was changed to October in Tokyo
- 2020 Japan Tree-planting Festival (全国植樹祭) in Shimane Prefecture, originally scheduled for 31 May, was postponed to a later date
- 2020 Tohoku Kizuna Traditional Festival (東北絆祭り) in Yamagata City, originally schedule date for May 30 and 31, was changed to next July
The following major contests were cancelled or postponed indefinitely:
- All Japan Kokeshi contest and exhibition in Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture
- All Japan chindonya contest in Toyama City
- Fukiage beach sand sculpture contest and exhibition in Minamisatsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture
- Arida Pottery Market in Saga Prefecture, originally scheduled for 29 April to 5 May, has been postponed indefinitely
International travel restrictions
Restrictions on entry to Japan
On 3 April, foreign travellers who had been in any of the following countries and regions within the past 14 days were barred from entering Japan. This travel ban covers all foreign nationals, including those holding Permanent Resident status. Foreign nationals with Special Permanent Resident status are not subject to immigration control under Article 5 of the Immigration Control Act 1951 and are therefore exempt.
Japanese citizens and holders of Special Permanent Resident status may return to Japan from these countries, but must undergo quarantine upon arrival until testing negative for COVID-19.
Restrictions on entry from Japan
The following countries and territories have restricted entry from Japan:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Argentina: Flight suspension and suspension of all visas.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Cook Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- East Timor
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- Hong Kong
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of the Congo
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Sint Maarten
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
Statistics by prefecture
|2020/03/06||7||1, 1||3||6||6||3||1||1||5||1, 2||1||13||4||2||2020/03/06||57||418||-||6||67||8,029|||
|2020/03/14||7||1||2||9||7||2||2||1||7||1[i 12]||10||11||1||1[i 13]||2020/03/14||62||789||1||22||157||13,026|||
^ A single number enclosed in parenthesis indicates cases with China travel history.
- By age
|Source: Toyo Keizai media as of 2020/04/24, 18:00.|
|Kinki (Kansai)||Mie Prefecture||45||1,653||2.7%|
Number of cases and deaths
No. of total confirmed cases
No. of new cases per day
No. of deaths in total
No of deaths per day
No. of sick people
No. of active results
- Excludes cases detected on the Diamond Princess.
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