The Japanese government announced that it is extending the state of emergency for all of Japan through May 31, 2020.  The state of emergency was initially announced on April 7 for Tokyo and six prefectures but was the expanded to all prefectures on April 16.  The Japanese government may extend the state of emergency further depending on the spread of COVID-19 within the country.  The state of emergency may be lifted with respect to certain prefectures prior to May 31 depending on the spread of infections within those prefectures.

All measures are largely voluntary under the special measures law.  As discussed in our prior blog post, prefectural governors can request or demand restrictions on the use of various establishments in their respective prefectures.  Prefectural governors can also demand the sale of essential supplies such as medicinal supplies and food, as well as compulsorily use privately owned land or buildings as temporary medical facilities.  Public transportation and essential utilities will continue to remain in operation.  Certain prefectures may permit particular establishments (such as museums and libraries) to reopen, although it will be at each prefectural governor’s discretion.

While the measures are largely voluntary and no penalties can be enforced for failure to comply with requests to restrict use of an establishment, Japanese companies and the public have a strong sense of moral and social obligation to comply.

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