• Jiji


Train stations and tourist spots were largely quiet in Tokyo and elsewhere under Japan’s third coronavirus state of emergency as the Golden Week holiday period began Thursday.

At Tokyo Station, only a few passengers were seen on platforms of the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line, unlike during the Golden Week period before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Occupancy rates for nonreserved seats on Shinkansen trains that departed the station by 10 a.m. reached only 60% at the highest and fell below 10% in some cases, according to the Shinkansen operator, Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Central.

“I’m a bit uneasy (about the virus), but it’s no use staying here,” said a corporate employee in his 50s, who was on his way to his hometown of Hiroshima. “I’ll behave and refrain from going out throughout my stay.”

An 83-year-old from Saitama said he was not worried very much because he had been vaccinated. He planned to visit Shizuoka Prefecture with relatives including a 4-year-old granddaughter.

The state of emergency is set to continue until May 11 in Tokyo and Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

In Kyoto, many tourist spots were quiet. Most of the restaurants and souvenir shops were closed near Kiyomizu Temple.

“I didn’t expect there would be so few people,” said a 29-year-old female corporate worker from Osaka. A local resident, 96, said she has never seen her town so quiet since she began living there more than 50 years ago.

At a hotel near Kyoto Station, the occupancy rate was around 20%. “We don’t know what to do,” an official said.

Meanwhile, Kobe’s Sannomiya district was crowded. Shoppers formed lines in front of stores at the Ekizo Kobe Sannomiya shopping facility, which opened recently.

The state of emergency “is not meaningful because we are too much used to it. It only torments restaurants,” said a Kobe homemaker, 34.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who canceled an overseas trip that had been scheduled for the Golden Week period, stayed in Tokyo to deal the coronavirus crisis.

In his office in a parliamentary office building, Suga was briefed on the latest situation by health ministry and other officials.

Whether the state of emergency can be lifted as planned hinges on how much progress Japan can make to slow the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday period.

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