Japan has ended its state of emergency put into effect due to the coronavirus pandemic. The East Asian nation reopens having reported 851 deaths caused by the virus.
“I have decided to end the state of emergency across the nation,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at a press conference on Monday. “In just over a month and a half, we almost brought [the infection] situation under control.”
“Our battle against the virus will continue,” he continued, explaining that the threat of the virus still exists in Japan. Abe emphasized that Japanese citizens continue to practice social distancing.
Per Monday’s total, Japan has reported 16,628 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, 13,612 recoveries, and the aforementioned 851 deaths.
Tokyo, the nation’s capital and the country’s hardest-hit area, home to 14 million people, has seen about a third of the cases— 5,100 reported COVID-19 cases.
These numbers are relatively low considering the Japanese government never instated the strict lockdown protocols of countries like China, the United States, and some European countries.
Japan’s virus containment strategy included measures that closed the country’s borders to foreign travelers who’d been in hotspot countries.
In addition to urging stringent social distancing behavior, Japanese restaurants and stores adhered to curfews, and bars, venues, and fitness clubs were ordered to close by the government. Establishments like this will remain closed in the coming weeks to ensure proper precaution is taken.
Now that the state of emergency has been lifted, citizens are still encouraged to wear masks in public and continue to work remotely if possible. Japanese people have also been asked to continue to avoid non-essential travel.
Although Abe was criticized for what other countries view as a ‘relaxed’ approach to virus containment, Japan suffered a relatively low infection rate and number of deaths by comparison.
“Just by looking at death numbers, you can say Japan was successful,” Mikihito Tanaka, a Waseda University professor and a member of a public group of COVID-19 experts, told Bloomberg. “But even experts don’t know the reason.”
Japanese officials will continue to monitor the number of cases as life resumes in the country, and Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s economic revitalization minister, has said further measures could be taken to ease guidelines currently in place as the situation remains under control.
As of now, the Japanese public is still staying home and avoiding large groups, but things are definitely looking up!