Well, that’s it. Japan has finally declared a month-long state of emergency on the 7th of April 2020 (will probably be extended). However, it doesn’t really change anything.
Due to abuses of power by the Japanese government in the past, it was written into the constitution that the government of Japan cannot overstep their grounds in regards to telling people what they can, and cannot do. Turns out Japan is a super free country! That aside, we have had a few weekend lockdowns. Well ok, maybe lockdown is a bit of a strong phrase. Maybe more like a “somewhat strongly suggested weekend stay-in.” Social distancing is being encouraged, particularly by Governor Koike of Tokyo. The aim is to reduce social contact with others by 60-80% (although recently the emphasis has been drawn to 80%). This is incredibly difficult for those who still have to go to work as many businesses remain operational.
The government’s official stance is this…
If your place of business is over 100 square meters you are urged to close (but you don’t have to). If your place of business is under 100 square meters you are urged to close (but you don’t have to). Yes, you read that right. This is the official stance.
The amount of people on the street has decreased but it would appear that a lot of people still haven’t heeded the weak warnings that Abe has put out. This is judging by the number of people I have seen in my local park while on my way to a supermarket. However, judging by Apple’s mobility trends in Tokyo, all forms of transport took a significant hit.
You can’t really blame the individuals who have jobs to get to, and people whining about those that are still packing the trains at 8 in the morning are either unemployed, working from home, or living in an already locked-down country. The responsibility has been shifted onto businesses to do the right thing. A state of emergency and self-isolation won’t work unless there is a strong lockdown on travel, jobs, gyms, and all non-essential shops. Which, won’t happen because like I said, even if Prime Minister Abe wanted to, he couldn’t legally issue a “lockdown”.
Two things worry me the most at the moment. One, Japan isn’t testing enough and whenever they do test, funny enough, they find more cases. It is fast becoming too late for testing to be an effective tool. And two, a lockdown or at the very least, severe social distancing measures are really the only way to stop the virus from spreading. If you don’t halt operations fast enough it will spread uncontrollably!
The unemployment rate in Japan as of 2019 is 2.41%. Telling people to stay in is a bit redundant because everyone works. I understand when it’s a weekend and Prime Minister Abe just wants people to stop having hanami parties on their day off, but, if there are people outside then why can’t I go outside? One more person on a train of a thousand other people isn’t going to make a difference, right? This will be the mentality of everyone unless there is a much stronger action than a polite suggestion.
Not acting fast enough and trying to look after the currency seems to be everyone’s Kryptonite. From ignoring it to outright denying its existence. It could be worse though, Japan could have taken the UK’s (“scientifically valid, given the current evidence”) *cheap* method, of letting everyone get it and to hell with you and your family.