The Japanese central government on Friday extended its coronavirus state of emergency for nine prefectures to June 20 just a little more than a month before the scheduled Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in Tokyo.
Government leaders in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Okayama, and Hiroshima prefectures had called for the state of emergency to be extended past May 31, the original deadline.
In affected areas, businesses that serve alcohol and use karaoke equipment will temporarily close and commercial facilities with floor space of more than 1,000 square meters will remain open until 8 p.m. unless ordered to close altogether by the government.
The current state of emergency, which was first ordered in April, is Japan’s third since the COVID-19 pandemic and has been extended three times.
The state of emergency was expanded as the movement grows for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled. The newspaper Asahi Shimbun, one of the local sponsors, wrote an editorial Wednesday calling on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to “to calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancellation of the event this summer.”
“The foremost priority must lie on maintaining a basic structure that protects the lives, health, and livelihoods of citizens,” the editorial said. “The Olympics must never be allowed to invite a situation that threatens this structure.”