Split over Japan's virus law between cities and government widens
Japan Times -- Jul 31
The power of words is being tested in Japan, where efforts to fight the novel coronavirus — bound by a law tailored to a different disease — remain strictly voluntary.

But that may soon change, after a nationwide surge in new infections triggered debate at all levels of government on not only how the law should be changed but when.

“Revising the law is necessary for our intended results to become reality,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said during an interview with The Japan Times. “Legal authority and financial resources — the central government needs to define and clarify these things.”

Earlier this month, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to revise the law in a way that would give municipal leaders legal authority to order businesses to close should they disobey virus countermeasures.

In a news conference less than a week later, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the Cabinet minister in charge of the country’s response to the virus, said that discussions concerning revision of the law should take place after the virus has subsided.

“The fire is happening now — it’s pointless to take action after the situation has passed as the fire will have spread by then,” Koike said.

The nation’s response has been shaped largely by the New Influenza Special Measures Act, which relies on residents and businesses to voluntarily isolate themselves, practice social distancing and temporarily suspend operations. It’s based on the characteristics of influenza, a disease for which a vaccine is readily available and the rate of spread and death rate is considerably lower than for COVID-19.

The Abe administration already revised the law to allow a state of emergency to be declared in early April over Tokyo and six other prefectures, a move that authorized prefectural governors to issue business closure requests and ask residents to isolate themselves.

News source: Japan Times
Aug 10
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo says he will work to prevent the elderly and other vulnerable people from contracting the coronavirus to avoid declaring another state of emergency. (NHK)
Aug 07
The governor of Tokyo has called on residents to refrain from traveling to other prefectures during the summer holiday season, amid the continued rise in numbers of coronavirus infections in the capital. (NHK)
Aug 07
The Cabinet on Friday earmarked ¥1.13 trillion in reserve funds to continue measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Aug 07
Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested an assemblyman for Tokyo’s Minato Ward on suspicion of indecent exposure in Kawasaki City on Thursday, reports NHK (Aug. 6). (tokyoreporter.com)
Aug 06
Japanese holidaymakers should refrain from domestic travel and regional governments should act independently to contain a resurgence of coronavirus infections, the country's top doctors' association said on Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Aug 06
Japanese drugstores were stripped bare of gargling solution by Wednesday, a day after the governor of Osaka Prefecture suggested it could help fight coronavirus, triggering panicked buying reminiscent of the early days of mask shortages. (Japan Today)
Aug 05
Japan’s labour ministry is working to extend a special employment subsidy to help firms hit by the coronavirus pandemic that would keep furloughed workers on the payroll, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Aug 05
Japan’s tally of virus infections is shooting up faster than ever, and support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is sinking to new lows. (Bloomberg)
Aug 05
The western Japanese city of Kobe has made its official TikTok account private amid growing security concerns, Nikkei has learned, in a sign of how the U.S. crackdown on the Chinese owner of the popular video-sharing app is rippling across the world. (Nikkei)
Aug 03
That loud ticking sound emanating from Tokyo's political clock bodes the imminent explosion of costs resulting from Japan's tepid COVID-19 response. (Nikkei)
Aug 02
Japan’s Okinawa island region has declared a state of emergency from August 1 to August 15, because of increasing COVID 19 cases. (republicworld.com)
Aug 02
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday appeared for the first time in public since April without wearing his much-touted government-sponsored mask, which has been derided as a symbol of his administration's out-of-step policy against the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)
Aug 01
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso described the yen's recent rise as "rapid" on Friday, signalling concern that a strong currency could add pain to an export-led economy already in recession because of the novel coronavirus. (business-standard.com)
Aug 01
The Japanese government said Friday it will lift a ban on reselling face masks and disinfectant as suppliers have ramped up production enough to resolve a nationwide shortage spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)
Aug 01
Japan on Friday pushed back its estimated return to a budget surplus by two years, due to the massive increase in spending needed to support the economy during the coronavirus and putting pressure on the nation’s massive debt burden. (kitco.com)
Jul 31
A team of ruling coalition lawmakers agreed Thursday not to lower the age of people covered by the juvenile law to under 18 from under 20 at present. (Japan Times)
Jul 31
Japan's top government spokesperson says the coronavirus outbreak is continuing to expand across the country, but the situation does not require the government to declare a state of emergency again. (NHK)
Jul 31
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has offered his sincere condolences over the death of former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. (NHK)
Jul 31
The power of words is being tested in Japan, where efforts to fight the novel coronavirus — bound by a law tailored to a different disease — remain strictly voluntary. (Japan Times)
Jul 31
The Japanese government is considering postponing the launch of the distribution of some 80 million additional cloth face masks to nursing care homes and other facilities, health ministry officials have said. (Japan Times)