On Saturday, November 21, Prime Minister Suga announced a revision to the Go-To Travel Campaign that has been promoting domestic travel since July of this year. The campaign, which was started as a way to health boost the economy and support the struggling tourism industry, will be changed to omit areas with high numbers of Corona outbreaks.
On November 24, both Osaka and Sapporo, which have seen large increases in infections, were temporarily suspended from the Go To campaign by their respective governors. Trips that have already been reserved will also have their discounts suspended, but trips that depart from either city will still be eligible for the discount. In regards to the third wave of increasing Coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Suga has stated, “Restrictions on private rights must be minimized. I respect each governor’s opinion and want to support them.” Despite criticisms that the campaign is a large contributor to the new wave of cases, Prime Minister Suga is continuing to support the campaign and has stated that there is, “no evidence that shows the campaign is a major cause of the spread of the virus”
Record Numbers of Cases Across the Country
However, during a video conference with the National Governors Association on the 24th, the government was strongly encouraged to also suspend trips that will depart from both cities. Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of economic revitalization, acknowledged the risk of spreading infections but emphasized that the governor of each prefecture should carefully examine their individual situations and make travel decisions. This too, however, was met with criticism that leaving travel decisions to governors is simply shifting responsibility.
Last week, Japan experienced record-breaking numbers of Corona cases, with over 2,500 being reported in one day. Tokyo and Osaka also hit record numbers last week with 534 cases and 415 cases each. Tokyo, which was initially excluded from the campaign to suppress infections, has not yet officially made a decision to suspend the campaign. However, as of November 25, Tokyo has announced a shortening of business hours for restaurants and places that serve food and drinks. Places such as restaurants and karaoke bars will be asked to close at 10 p.m. The restriction is expected to last for around 20 days.
Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.