In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese government is introducing a state of emergency on Tuesday.
This decision was made for the first time in the post-war history of Japan, and this happened after a record number of cases were recorded in Tokyo per day. Against the backdrop of emerging from the pandemic of China and South Korea, the third economy of the world looks like a weak link in the region. Given this, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday announced a large-scale package of anti-crisis measures, the total cost of which is about 20% of the country's annual GDP.
Despite the calls made by the Japanese authorities in February for the leadership of private companies to transfer their employees to remote work, the nation of workaholics and corporate collectivist culture did not take this initiative seriously. According to a survey conducted at the end of last week by the operator of the social network LINE, citizens began to wash their hands more often, but only 5.6% of the respondents switched to remote work. In addition, only 32.8% of respondents reported that they began to observe the necessary social distance and not talk to each other at close range.
As a result, the authorities decided to take harsh measures and, for the first time in the history of post-war Japan, introduced an emergency regime. It will have its own specifics. On the one hand, the announcement of the emergency mode will allow local authorities to require citizens not to go out, refuse public events, and comply with hygiene requirements. On the other hand, no QR codes for going out, fines and other punitive measures for failure to comply with these requirements are provided for: the calculation is made on the traditional discipline of the Japanese. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured: "Unlike foreign countries, there will be no closure of cities." At the same time, we are not talking about a national lockout - the emergency mode will affect the metropolitan region of Tokyo and six prefectures.
Unexpected disappointing statistics predetermined the unexpected introduction of the emergency regime in Japan: the situation was blown up by the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, released last Sunday. In Tokyo, the leader in terms of the number of infected people (more than 1 thousand people), 143 cases of infection were recorded that day - a new daily record from the start of the pandemic. In Osaka Prefecture, the country's industrial center, 21 new cases were discovered on Sunday, and the total number of infected exceeded four hundred people.
The situation escalated even more after the Minister of Justice Masako Mori announced the threat of mass infection that arose in the prison of the second largest city of Osaka, where the coronavirus was found in one of the guards (in this prison there are more than 1 thousand prisoners who are being monitored more 500 overseers and employees). There was a need to avoid a critical situation similar to that previously encountered on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship: many passengers infected each other while the ship was quarantined off the Japanese coast. As a result, the authorities took emergency measures, in the implementation of which a land forces unit and army doctors were involved. A coronavirus-infected warden and 40 prisoners with whom he spoke were quarantined in solitary confinement. About 120 other prison staff members were transferred to home isolation.
In addition to the rapid increase in the number of people infected in Tokyo and Osaka, the second factor that prompted the authorities to decide on the introduction of emergency situations was the lack of a clear idea of what the real scale of the pandemic was.
Unlike South Korea, where the emphasis was initially placed on early diagnosis and tens of thousands of tests were performed daily, in Japan, coronavirus tests are performed only for those with suspicious symptoms. Perhaps this is why Japan is far from the leaders in the total number of cases - according to the latest official data from the Ministry of Health, the country has more than 3.6 thousand cases of infection and 84 deaths from coronavirus (not counting 712 infected and 11 dead Princess Princess passengers). Meanwhile, according to Kyodo, in the event of an unfavorable scenario for a pandemic in Tokyo and other cities, there may be a shortage of hospital beds.
It is noteworthy that the reluctance of the Japanese authorities to repeat the experience of countries that had initially relied on mass testing provoked tensions between Tokyo and its key ally, Washington, which ensures the country's security in accordance with the 1960 treaty. On Monday, Japanese authorities expressed bewilderment over the statement by the US embassy, which criticized Tokyo for the insufficient work, in the opinion of the American side, on the early diagnosis of coronavirus infection.
“We act in strict accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Some indicate that there are few tests, but in Japan there are few who die from being infected with a new coronavirus, ”said Yoshihide Suga, secretary general of the cabinet, at a press conference in Tokyo. Earlier, a statement was posted on the website of the American diplomatic mission in Tokyo, which stated that it was difficult to assess the extent of infection in Japan, since the country's authorities did not conduct mass tests for coronavirus. In this regard, the US Embassy called on American citizens to begin preparations for evacuation from the country.
Against this backdrop, Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider, commander of the US military in Japan, announced on Monday the introduction of an emergency mode for the US military stationed in the Kanto region. “Ensuring the safety of everyone associated with the US military in Japan is our priority,” he explained. Recall that the Kanto region includes Tokyo and adjacent prefectures, where a number of strategic US military facilities are located, including the Yokota Air Force Base.
In addition to the issues of combating the pandemic, another acute topic is the implications of the upcoming introduction of the emergency mode for the third world economy and the second Asian economy.
The Japanese yen immediately responded to reports of new measures being prepared - its rate against world currencies continued to decline on Monday.
Realizing the severity of the consequences of the epidemic, Prime Minister Abe announced on Monday an unprecedented package of anti-crisis economic measures. Its value is 108 trillion yen ($ 989 billion), which is equivalent to about 20% of the country's GDP. The funds, in particular, will be used to support business and cash payments to those whose incomes have fallen sharply due to restrictive measures in connection with the pandemic.