The Strategist

Japan goes back to normal life, loosens lockdown

05/13/2020 - 03:01

On Thursday, the Japanese government will announce early easing of the emergency regime, which was supposed to last to May 31 in most prefectures. A return to normal life ahead of schedule was made possible thanks to encouraging statistics on sick and recovered people. To speed up the easing of the restrictions, the local authorities intend to approve the use of a new rapid test that can detect coronavirus in just 15 minutes.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the upcoming mitigation of the country's emergency regime (ES) at the beginning of the week, after which the NHK TV channel announced that a decision on the transition to a new phase of the fight against the epidemic would be made on Thursday. It is expected that in this regard, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a new appeal to the nation.

The cabinet head is currently finalizing consultations with a group of leading epidemiologists and economists in order to find the best balance between measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the resumption of the large economy, which is suffering serious losses due to the curtailment of production and reduced demand.

The emergency regime in the leading regions of the country, including Tokyo and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka, was intorduced on April 8 and a week later was extended to all 47 prefectures. The emergency period that expired on May 4 was extended until May 31.

At the same time, the emergency mode in Japan initially became one of the most liberal in the world: the government relied solely on the voluntary consent of citizens to implement the recommendations of the authorities without introducing fines, QR codes or any other harsh measures.

A May 6 opinion poll by Mainichi Shimbun showed that 66% of the country's citizens are ready to continue to support the extension of the emergency regime in its current format, if the government considers it necessary.

Nevertheless, the transition to early removal of restrictions has become possible based on encouraging statistics: this week, the daily increase in the number of cases has not exceeded 100 people. In addition, as stated last Sunday in the country's Ministry of Health, the number of recovered reached a record high - more than 2.4 thousand people - in just one day.

After that, the overall rate of recoveries reached the mark of 9 thousand people (in total, over 16 thousand patients with coronavirus have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, 670 patients have died).

Given positive statistics, even before the upcoming announcement on easing the emergency regime, the authorities of seven prefectures - Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Tottori, Kagawa, Koti and Miyazaki - canceled their call for local companies to suspend their activities due to the spread of coronavirus.


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