Noting that COVID-19 infections have significantly declined from their peak, the Japanese government will end the state of emergency covering Tokyo, Osaka, and 17 other prefectures today, September 30. The restrictions have been in effect in some form for more than half a year. The government will ease restrictions in stages while dining establishments will have their hours curtailed for 30 days. Forbes reported that new daily infections have fallen from 22,000 a day to approximately 2,500 per day this past month. It has been relegated to the governors of each prefecture to decide which countermeasures should remain and which should be lifted.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga addressed Japan in what became his final press conference before leaving the leadership office. Suga credited vaccinations with bringing a “new phase” in which restrictions on social and economic activity could be gradually relaxed.
“Going forward, it’s important that we balance COVID-19 countermeasures with normal life while preparing for future waves of infections,” he said.
This move comes just a day before Suga, of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, steps down. Suga announced in September that he would decline to try for continued office, amidst sinking summer approval ratings below 30%, which were said to be related to the surge of COVID-19 infections. Suga served just one year in office and is succeeded by a member of his own party, former foreign minister Fumio Kishida.