Record-Breaking Infection Numbers Continue to Rise

On Wednesday, January 6th, Japan reported over 6,000 infections across the country in a single day, the highest number of cases in a single day to date. The Kanto region, in particular, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba, now make up over half of all total daily infection numbers. Tokyo also managed to hit new heights this Wednesday with 1,591 cases, 131 of which are in serious condition. The ever-increasing number of patients is threatening to overwhelm the already teetering health care system. In an effort to reduce outings and crowds, Prime Minister Suga and the central government are preparing to declare another state of emergency for the 4 Kanto prefectures. This will give the local governors of these regions more legal backing to persuade citizens to travel less.

Details on the Next State of Emergency

State of Emergency conference
Prime Minister Suga at a press conference on January 4, 2021. Image by Photo by Uichiro Kasai.

This state of emergency is expected to be quite similar to the last. Citizens will be requested to refrain from unnecessary outings past 8 p.m. To further encourage this, restaurants and bars will also be asked to close by this time. The request for shortened business hours is to last until the 31st of January. As of now, public schools are planned to remain open for the duration of the state of emergency. Prime Minister Suga and the government are also planning to reduce the number of people allowed at live events and to encourage teleworking to companies that can implement it.

The official announcement is scheduled for Thursday, January 7th and the conditions are expected to last 1 month in total.

A Visible Effort Compared to Last Year

Empty Tokyo Station during State of Emergency
A virtually empty street by Tokyo Station during the State of Emergency from last year. Hopefully the next one will prove equally effective in reducing crowds. Image sourced from Japan News-Yomiuri photo.

Despite the continuously rising cases, a clear effort can be seen in the number of people using trains. According to data from Docomo Insight Marketing, there were less than half as many commuters around Tokyo’s busier stations this at 8 a.m. on Monday, January 4th than there were at this time last year. Nagoya Station also saw a decline by around 51% and Osaka Station by around 33%.

Another factor to take into consideration is the newest strain of Corona which has found its way to Japan. The mutation, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, is thought to be much more easily spread than the previous strain of Corona. As of this date, 25 cases have been recorded in Japan.