Since the onset of the pandemic, the balance of power has oscillated between the central government and prefectural governors — undermining trust in the former.
For Ryusei Takahashi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
While dining establishments will be asked to continue to close by 8 p.m. and not sell alcohol, measures related to department stores and events will be eased.
Athletes will need to be tested before and after arrival, but they will not be asked to isolate themselves after landing in the country, and nor will vaccinations be mandatory.
Effective Sunday, department stores, shopping centers, movie theaters and other large commercial facilities will be asked to close in four prefectures until May 11.
The push and pull in Osaka provides a taste of what happens when a public official tries to take proactive measures in Japan, where virus measures remain largely voluntary.
There are fears that the latest wave — fueled by deadlier, more contagious variants — will be impervious to whatever measures a third emergency might entail.
As a fourth wave fueled by elusive, deadlier variants picks up speed, countermeasures meant to target localized outbreaks have quickly expanded.
"What is the point of the Olympics if it helps spread the virus further?" said LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai on a television program.
Countless controversial elements regarding restrictions on spectator attendance and the priority vaccination of competing athletes, among others, remain undecided.
A significant increase in testing and genomic screening would better reveal the spread of virus variants, but experts question the country’s ability and willingness to do so.