The Nikkei newspaper reports that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided today to request the national government to declare a state-of-emergency, following a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases. The report is based on interviews with multiple sources.
Governor Yuriko Koike plans to meet with Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalization on the afternoon of January 2nd to make the request. According to sources, Governor Motohiro Ohno of Saitama prefecture will also be present at the meeting. The two governors will both make a request for a state-of-emergency declaration.
The number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo has shot up in the last few days. On December 31st, a record 1,337 cases were reported. The Tokyo metropolitan government is asking people to spend time quietly at home instead of returning to their hometowns for the holidays. Restaurants and bars have also been asked to close at 10PM but these measures have seemingly not been sufficient to control the spread of the rise in infections.
The state of emergency is a declaration issued by the Prime Minister that and is based on the Act on Special Measures Concerning New Influenza. The prefectural (or metropolitan) governor can request people to refrain from going out without a declaration, but after the declaration, the governor would be able to make requests with a clear legal basis.
However, unlike state-of-emergency declarations in many countries, there is no binding legal mechanism. The governor would still only be able to request people to take certain actions (such as working from home or refraining from going out) but not to compel them to do so.
On April 7th, 2020, the government issued a state-of-emergency for seven prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka. Subsequently, the target area was expanded nationwide and was finally canceled nationwide on May 25th.
Source: Nikkei newspaper, January 2, 2021 (in Japanese)
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