Arab News Japan
TOKYO: The Japanese government expanded its COVID-19 state of emergency on Friday with Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide apologizing for the restrictions it places on certain areas.
The state of emergency already covered Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, but Fukuoka and Aichi prefectures were added on Friday. Softer restrictions cover other areas in Japan.
“I would like to express my deepest apologies to all those who continue to be burdened by this extension,” Suga said at a press conference. “I would like to thank the people who have refrained from going out, the businesses who have responded to requests for leave of absence, and the people who have worked hard at medical and nursing places.”
Hospitals in the worst affected areas are operating beyond capacity as infections have risen.
“We need to maintain strong vigilance against the virus and take further measures,” said Suga, who emphasized the importance of a strong vaccination program. Japan has vaccinated less than 2 percent of its citizens so far.
“The ability to return to our normal daily lives depends on how many people can be vaccinated,” Suga said. “From next week, full-scale vaccinations will start in local governments nationwide. Large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka will also start on the 24th of this month. After that, the government will do everything in its power to support local governments and aim for 1 million vaccinations a day.
Suga said it was important for people to work from home where possible and reduce the number of people commuting on public transport by persuading shops and other establishments to close early.
As for hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Suga said: “I understand that people are worried about it. First of all, we will do our best to prevent the current spread of infection. When hosting the Tokyo Games, it is important to take proper measures against infections among athletes and people involved in the tournament, and to protect the lives and health of the people.”