As of May 25th, the state of emergency declared in Japan has ended. This comes ahead of the expected May 31st lockdown extension. The economy and travel are expected to return to normal in the next few months, however, many events through July and August remain canceled.
When infection numbers were rising, pressure remained on the government to take a strong, decisive course of action against coronavirus beyond the original measures of requesting people to refrain from going out.
About the 'lockdown'
Ultimately, however, there’s a limit to what the Japanese government can achieve and the new initiative is not seen to emulate 'lockdown' measures seen around the world. While local authorities have a greater ability to compel people to stay at home and close non-essential businesses and gatherings, the call for voluntary restraint will not be binding by law, given Japan's constitution and protection of civil liberties.
This means there will be little to no enforcement against non-compliance, like fines or arrests. While essential businesses, such as clinics, pharmacies, convenience stores, and supermarkets, will remain open, there is little to stop people from going out. Many businesses will need to determine by themselves how to adapt or suspend operations—Starbucks already announced a temporary closure of its stores nationwide on Wed, April 8th.
Japanese authorities will be hoping peer pressure and respect for authority will be enough to keep people—especially younger generations—indoors during the pandemic.
Follow our updates on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting Japan. More
What does this all mean for visitors in Japan?
The US Embassy has a number of safety resources for foreign citizens living or traveling in Japan. If you’ve recently arrived in Japan, chances are that you might have been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. This is to ensure your safety and those you may come into contact with.
Public transportation is expected to continue running, albeit at a reduced frequency and for shorter hours. If you need to use transportation, do check local schedules and websites beforehand. Don't be surprised if you see civil servants pulling people aside and asking them why they aren't at home — it's all a part of the plan to keep people from leaving during this critical time.
The government has also extended pleas to those who might hoard, citing that Japan has enough resources such as toilet paper and food so that people need not panic buy. So, whether you are visiting Japan or living here, the call to arms serves as proof that we must all do our part if we’re to stem the spread of coronavirus. Remember to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, wash your hands with soap, and wear a mask—and of course, practice social distancing.