40 prefectures in Japan to request business closures to fight pandemic


Forty of the 47 prefectures have asked or plan to ask businesses to close to curb the coronavirus outbreak, a survey says.

According to the survey, conducted by Jiji Press, 35 of the 40 have decided to provide support, including financial aid, to businesses that suspend operations. But the amount will differ from prefecture to prefecture, depending on their financial strength.

Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture were the first to issue the requests, on April 11, four days after the central government put them under a state of emergency with five other prefectures reporting infection spikes — Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. The other five prefectures issued their requests days later.

Many other prefectures followed suit, and the state of emergency was expanded to the entire nation on April 16.

A wide range of businesses from karaoke parlors, theaters and fitness clubs to pachinko parlors and hostess bars are now subject to the temporary closure requests in many prefectures.

In the meantime, Oita Prefecture has decided to focus mainly on pachinko and game emporiums because people in neighboring Fukuoka have been crossing the prefectural line to visit those open in Oita.

Shikoku’s Kagawa, famous for udon, put the noodle restaurants on its list to dissuade tourists from visiting.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is financially sound, has decided to provide up to ¥1 million each to businesses that comply with the request as “cooperation money.” Osaka and Hyogo are doing the same.

Most of the other prefectures plan to provide from ¥100,000 to hundreds of thousands of yen while taking advantage of special tax grants from the government.

Yamanashi, Wakayama, Ehime and Oita have no plans to provide compensation.

Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki said: “We have low financial capacity, so we would like to use money to improve the prefecture’s medical care system to protect the lives of residents.”

The prefectural governments’ business suspension requests are based on a provision under the revised special law on new influenza measures, which now covers the novel coronavirus. The provision stipulates that they can seek “necessary cooperation” to fight a virus.

As the prefectural requests are based on state law, some governors are calling on the central government to shoulder costs of providing corporate aid.

“The state should take responsibility to pay compensation related to business closures,” Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki said.

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