All national papers reported today that in response to a request filed by the governors of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo on Saturday, the Suga administration will likely declare as early as Wednesday a state of emergency in those prefectures in response to a resurgence of the coronavirus. When meeting with Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura on Saturday, the three governors reportedly said: “Additional infection prevention measures are necessary in view of the continued rise in new cases after Jan. 1 and the heavy strain on hospital capacity.” Yomiuri cited an unnamed high-ranking GOJ official as stating that the GOJ has informally decided to issue a state of emergency to boost the effectiveness of the three governors’ infection prevention measures.
Prime Minister Suga appeared live on a TV show on Sunday and said he will wait a few more days to decide whether it is necessary to impose a state of emergency for the Kansai region while taking advice from health experts into account. “If necessary, we are ready to act quickly,” he was quoted as saying.
According to the dailies, the governors of Aichi and Gifu are also expected to file a similar request with the GOJ today. Tochigi, Ibaraki, Fukuoka, and Kumamoto may follow suit. The Japan Governors Association held a teleconference on Saturday, during which many participants called on the Suga administration not to hesitate to declare a state of emergency if prefectural governors conclude that doing so is necessary to rein in the virus. However, the GOJ is reportedly hesitant to expand the scope of the state of emergency out of concern over the ailing economy.
Sankei said the GOJ has yet to unveil additional measures that can be taken in the event that the state of emergency fails to flatten the epidemic curve in the remaining four weeks. Although the GOJ plans to revise relevant statutes to make infection prevention measures more enforceable, they probably will not be implemented until late February. The paper said the premier is responsible for fulfilling his pledge to “turn the tide without fail within a month.”
As smartphone tracking data showed that the number of people out and about near major train stations and tourism spots in the four prefectures did not decline markedly over the three-day weekend, the papers said public health experts are calling for tougher measures to dissuade people from going on nonessential outings.