TOKYO: Train stations and business districts in Tokyo and Osaka that are usually bustling with people went quiet Wednesday morning, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 epidemic the day before.
Taxis and buses in Japan’s biggest cities experienced a sudden disappearance of passengers, as people stay at home to ride out the coronavirus outbreak.
Department stores and commercial buildings near East Japan Railway Co.’s Tokyo Station closed, and buses often left without a single passenger.
“I go to the office once a week now due to working from home,” said a woman in her 50s who commutes to work by bus from Koto Ward. “The bus was empty.”
“I came because there is a meeting I need to attend,” she said. “I’ll prepare a week’s worth of work and go home early.”
A 65-year-old worker at a government lender from Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, said that he has become busier due to the coronavirus. He said he has been receiving phone calls from eateries and other businesses nonstop.
“Despite the risk of infection, I make the one-and-a-half-hour commute because there aren’t enough people,” he said. “It would all be unnecessary if more information technology was introduced.”
A taxi driver waiting for passengers near JR East’s Yurakucho Station in Tokyo said he was bored.
A business district in Chuo Ward in Osaka, western Japan, also saw very few people. Lines of cars at intersections waiting for the traffic lights to change were shorter than usual.
“There are less than half the normal amount of people,” a 44-year-old company worker walking in the area said. “There were only about four people on the subway train car I rode to get here.”
“I think that the number of clients closing their offices will increase,” he added.