The Japanese government has announced a state of emergency in a bid to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control. Some prefectures were already under emergency during the announcement, but the situation has currently become applicable nationwide. Japan has, until now, reported more than 13,000 cases of infections, with a death toll of nearly 350 as of Aril 27.
Under an emergency declaration
“I decided to put all prefectures under the state of emergency to curb infections in respective areas and especially to keep the movement of people to a minimum heading into the Golden Week holidays. To end the emergency situation by May 6, it’s imperative for people to reduce contact with others by at least 70 percent and up to 80 percent,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, as reported by Kyodo News.
The emergency declaration will provide prefectures with greater powers to take necessary steps to curb the spread of COVID-19. This includes measures like declaring business or school shutdowns. Prefectural governors will also have the power to expropriate private buildings and land to set up medical care facilities. They can force companies to supply necessary food and medical supplies and punish hoarders.
The country’s health system is stressed out, with many patients being admitted on a regular basis. Experts are warning that emergency medical facilities in Tokyo could face collapse. The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is plaguing healthcare workers. The mayor of Osaka appealed to people to donate their raincoats to be repurposed as PPEs. The Japanese government also announced that it would send two cloth masks by mail to every household, a move that will cost the country about 46 billion yen (US$428 million).
As cases of CPP coronavirus infections keep rising in Japan, there has also been rising criticism of Abe and his policies. Some say that he has been too late in declaring the emergency. A video clip of Abe relaxing with his dog on a sofa went viral, angering some people even though the intended message was to stress the importance of restricting people to their homes.
Japanese media cited anonymous sources stating that the number of fatalities from the virus could reach as many as 400,000 without implementing proper mitigation measures. Almost 850,000 people are expected to need ventilators. As such, the government is advising people to strictly follow isolation and other necessary measures. An opposition lawmaker was forced to resign after he visited a bar despite the government’s call to stay at home.
The Japanese administration earlier decided to hand out payouts of 300,000 yen (US$2,784) for households whose income has reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, officials have scrapped the proposal and revealed a new plan under which 100,000 yen (US$928) will be given to every Japanese citizen. International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the country’s economy to shrink by 5.2 percent this year. It advised Tokyo to boost fiscal spending to limit the negative economic effects of the CCP coronavirus.
Bad news for China
Meanwhile, Japan’s decision to support Japanese businesses to shift manufacturing operations away from China has triggered a huge debate among the Chinese. Many now fear that Japan’s decision might embolden other nations to also move out operations from China, which on a large scale would cause huge economic and political turmoil in the country.
Japan has been severely hit by the shutdown of Chinese factories. The Japanese auto industry relies heavily on China to supply components. However, the auto industry is now stuck with reduced activity, pushing many businesses in the sector into financial distress.
Abe pointed out that people are worried about supply chains being too dependent on China and are looking to minimize such risks. The administration is focusing on relocating the production of high-value items to Japan. For the remaining items, diversifying operations into ASEAN nations is seen as viable.