Governor Koike Yuriko is asking the government to ask residents not to leave the 23 special wards and the Tama area.
The request comes as Tokyo registered more than 500 new COVID-19 cases on April 7, the largest number in months and just weeks after the state of emergency was lifted, increasing fears that Tokyo is set to experience another wave.
Osaka registered 878 cases, its highest number yet. The major problem with the cases in Osaka is that the mutant strains are prevalent and spreading; and since there are many business trips between the Japanese capital and the largest city in the Kansai region, the strain could then start spreading in Tokyo.
If the mutant strains were to start spreading in Tokyo, it would add yet another headache to the officials trying to establish the appropriate measures required to host the Tokyo Olympics this summer despite public disapproval
The vaccine rollout in Japan started in February, but so far only healthcare workers have received the vaccines. Next, the elderly will start receiving the vaccine on April 12.
Governor Koike announcing that she is asking the government to implement her decision is part of the slow process in decision-making within the Japanese government and which the public has grown used to since former Prime Minister Abe declared the first state of emergency. Each time before a major decision was made there were various announcements indicating when a request was being asked, when it was being discussed, when it was going to be implemented, and finally the announcement detailing the implementation. Sometimes, the time between the first announcement and the final implementation can take days and even weeks, creating a window in which COVID-19 cases can exponentially grow.
As of now, it is not clear when the government will set Koike’s request in motion.