2020 Japan and the World in Review: March 2020 Timeline

A summary of important events in Japan and the world in March 2020.

March overview:

  • Prime Minister Abe declares “war” on the coronavirus.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declares the coronavirus a pandemic (March 11th) and that Europe is the new epicenter of the outbreak (March 13th).
  • Global financial market in turmoil throughout the month.
  • Japan starts requiring people traveling from the United States to quarantine for fourteen days.
  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed to 2021 (March 24th).
  • Snapshot of COVID-19 cases on March 31st in Tokyo: 7-day moving average of people testing positive is 50.4 persons.

February 2020 Timeline: Important events in Japan in February 2020


March 1

— COVID-19 global death toll surpasses 3,000.

— Tokyo Marathon held with only about 200 elite runners due to COVID-19 restrictions. Originally, 38,000 were due to take part.

March 2

— The Tokyo Organizing Committee (TOCOG) releases a statement saying that preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics were “continuing as planned”.

— The Japan Sumo Association announces its spring tournament in Osaka will take place with no spectators.

— The United States reports four more deaths, all in Washington state.

March 3

— A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that the Games would proceed according to schedule.

— Japan announces it will cancel ceremonies marking the anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

— China reports only 125 new cases, seven of which are imported cases from Italy.

— In an emergency move, its first since 2008, the U.S. Federal Reserve cuts the federal funds rate by 0.5%, to a range between 1 and 1.25%. U.S. stocks extend their drop in response to the cuts.

March 4

— Japan reports 33 new infections, its biggest one day increase.

— Prime Minister Abe declares “war” on the coronavirus pandemic.

— U.S. House passes $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus bill.

— California declares state of emergency over coronavirus.

March 5

— The first death from COVID-19 is confirmed in England, after a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions dies at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Berkshire, as the number of confirmed cases of the virus rises to over 100.

— The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops again almost 1,000 points over coronavirus fears.

— U.S. Mortgage rate tumbles to a record low of 3.29%.

March 6

— Number of coronavirus cases hits 100,000 globally.

— U.S. CDC urges those over 60 to stay indoors.

— COVID-19 status on this date:

  • Total Countries With Confirmed Cases: 90
  • Total Cases Confirmed Globally: 100,481
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 3,408
  • Deaths Outside of China: 366

— Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes a list of countries and regions that have restricted entry for travelers from Japan or which have placed restrictions on travelers after they have cleared immigration, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

March 7

— New York declares a state of emergency.

March 8

— Japan says it will financially support parents who have been forced to take time off to look after their children due to Abe’s abrupt decision to close all schools from last Monday to the start of the new school year in April.

— The first COVID-19 death is confirmed in Canada.

March 9

— Italy declares nationwide lockdown.

— WHO reports that more than 70% of coronavirus cases in China have recovered.

— Oil prices plummet after Saudi Arabia cut its official selling prices over the weekend.

— The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummets 1,800 points on opening, 500 points lower than pre-market futures trading.

— The United Kingdom’s largest retailer Tesco says it will be restricting the sale of essential food and household items in response to fears of mass panic buying.

— Ireland cancels all Saint Patrick’s Day parades.

March 10

— The Cabinet of Japan passes a bill that allows Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus if necessary.

— Coronavirus is reported in all 26 European Union member states.

March 11

— 9th anniversary of the March 11th earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Tohoku, Japan.

— WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

— The United Nations reports that about 20% of students are out of school globally as a result of the pandemic

— National Basketball Association (NBA) in the U.S. suspends its season.

March 12

— Japan’s Self-Defense Forces delivers nearly 350,000 masks from its stockpile to the government amid a serious shortage of the protective gear caused by the new coronavirus epidemic.

— Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak records just 5 new cases of coronavirus

— New York City declares a state of emergency

— France closes all schools

— U.S. stocks record their worst day since 1987

March 13

— Japan enacts a time-limited legal change, enabling Prime MinisterAbe, if he deems it necessary, to declare a state of emergency to cope with the spread of the new coronavirus, after US President Trump’s telephone calls about the 2020 Summer Olympics and the Paralympics plans.

— More than 5,000 have died from coronavirus worldwide

— WHO declares Europe the new epicenter of the outbreak

— President Trump declares a state of National Emergency under Stafford Act

— COVID-19 status on this date:

  • Total Countries With Confirmed Cases: 121
  • Total Cases Confirmed Globally: 142,095
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 5,373
  • Deaths Outside of China: 2,197

March 14

Takanawa Gateway Station opens, the newest station on the Yamanote line in 49 years.

— New York records its first coronavirus related death. It releases the report of the first two deaths on March 15.

March 15

— Japan’s Ministry of Health publishes a breakdown of novel coronavirus cases by prefecture, identifying the main clusters in the country. The Ministry counted 681 cases nationwide as of noon on March 15th, excluding the 697 people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. A total of 31 infected people have died.

— New York City public schools close.

— In an emergency move, less than two weeks after the previous unscheduled intervention, the U.S. Fed drops its benchmark rate a full percentage point. It announces a $700 billion quantitative easing program, sets reserve requirements for thousands of banks to zero and lowers other lending rates. The set of measures is the biggest ever intervention in a single day.

— Germany closes its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg.

— Asian markets fall substantially and European markets open with huge losses. S&P futures fall 5%, triggering a trading halt in response to the Federal Reserve’s emergency measures. The Dow closes 2,997 points or 12.9% lower – its largest daily points movement.

March 16

— A court in Japan sentences Satoshi Uematsu to death for one of the country’s worst mass murders, in which he killed 19 disabled people.

— France, Germany, and Spain, among other countries close their borders to all non-residents and citizens.

March 17

— The President of the Japan Football Association and deputy Olympic Committee chief Kozo Tashima tests positive for COVID-19. Japan insists the 2020 Summer Olympics will still go ahead as planned.

— The European Union closes its borders to all non-essential travel.

— Russia closes its borders to all non-citizens, residents, and diplomats, effective until May.

March 18

— The United States and Canada suspend non-essential travel between the two countries.

March 19

— An expert panel guiding Japan’s coronavirus response recommends that schools in some regions could be reopened but that large gatherings and enclosed areas that could reignite the contagion should still be avoided.

— Japan celebrates spring with a three-day weekend (Friday, March 19th to Sunday, March 21st). Photos from around Tokyo showing what the city looked like over the long weekend.

— Despite calls for the cancelation of the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Greece hands the Olympic flame over to Japan in a ceremony without spectators.

— Italy’s coronavirus death toll surpasses China’s.

— China reports zero new local coronavirus virus infections.

— The U.S. State Department warns American citizens not to travel abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

— California issues a stay-at-home order for all of its 40 million residents.

— The suspension of football games in England, including the Premier League and English Football League, is extended until at least April 30 due to the continued spread of the coronavirus.

March 20

— 25th anniversary of the March 20th sarin subway attack by cult movement Aum Shinrikyo in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

— Japanese car manufacturer Nissan suspends production indefinitely at its major Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK plant in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, over the coronavirus pandemic.

— Italy records 627 deaths, the largest single increase since the onset of the outbreak.

— The World Health Organization says China reporting zero domestic cases of COVID-19 for two days in a row should “give the world hope.”

March 21

— China reports no new local coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day.

— The World Health Organization says at least 20 vaccines for COVID-19 are in development around the world and that clinical trials are underway.

March 22

— Global coronavirus cases double from last week, reaching almost 330,000 cases.

March 23

— The Japanese government will start requiring travelers arriving from the United States to self-quarantine for fourteen days, starting this week.

— WHO announces the “pandemic is accelerating.”

— Three countries—Canada, Australia, and Great Britain—said they would withdraw from the Games if they were not postponed by a year. The same day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that he would support a proposed postponement, citing that ensuring athlete safety was “paramount”.

March 24

— The IOC and Tokyo Olympic committee postpone 2020 summer Olympics for the first time since World War Two. For continuity and marketing purposes, the Games will still be branded as Tokyo 2020, despite the change in scheduling.

— New Zealand enters lockdown

— Australia  announces a nationwide lockdown, outlawing all travel interstate and overseas, and closing the nation’s borders. Schools remain open in some locations.

— United States reaches 50,000 coronavirus cases.

— China lifts lockdown on Hubei province.

March 25

— Spain supplants China as the country with the second-greatest number of recorded COVID-19 deaths.

— Nearly one third of the world’s population is affected by coronavirus lockdowns.

— WHO warns that there is a “significant shortage” of medical supplies.

March 26

— The governments of KanagawaSaitama, and Chiba prefectures, which surround Tokyo, have called on residents to avoid non-essential travel to the city, in response to the surge in the number of coronavirus cases reported overnight. Tokyo Governor Koike says at a news conference that the situation was”severe” after 41 new cases were reported in Tokyo on Wednesday alone.

— Nearly a third of the world’s population are living under coronavirus-related restrictions.

— China announces that travel will be suspended to the country as imported cases increase.

— United States death toll reaches one thousand.

— More than 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, the highest number to date.

— New York City becomes the epicenter of the US outbreak.

— Reported coronavirus cases double every three days.

— The U.S. Senate unanimously passes a $2 trillion stimulus plan.

March 27

— UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus.

— China bans foreign visitors after imported cases rise.

March 28

— Global deaths surpass 30,000.

— New Zealand reports its first coronavirus death.

March 29

— The United States passes 140,000 coronavirus cases—more than any other country in the world.

— Hubei province reopens domestic flights.

March 30

— Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko calls on residents to refrain from attending karaoke outlets, concert venues, bars, and nightclubs to contain the spread of COVID-19. She also asks  people with mild or no symptoms to recuperate at home or in their accommodation to save hospital beds for serious cases.

— It is reported that popular comedian Shimura Ken died on March 29 at the age of 70. He entered the hospital on March 20 complaining of fatigue and later developed pneumonia.

— The IOC and Tokyo organizing committee announce that they had reached an agreement on the new dates for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, which are now scheduled to open on 23 July 2021 with the Closing Ceremony to take place on 8 August. The subsequent Winter Olympics in Beijing are due to open on 4 February 2022, less than six months later.

March 31

— China reports 48 new cases of the virus, all of which are imported.

— Snapshot of COVID-19 cases on March 31st in Tokyo: 7-day moving average of people testing positive is 50.4 persons.


Thinkglobalhealth.org updated timeline of the coronavirus

Wikipedia current events March 2020

Wikipedia Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

Tokyo Metropolitan Government COVID-19 Information Website

— Nippon.com, Number of cases in Japan by prefecture, March 30, 2020

Lead photo: Stylized Olympic Rings on Japanese Washi Paper in Japan Olympic Museum, photo by Scott Kouchi