On March 11, the Abe Cabinet presented a bill to add the new coronavirus to the existing Special Measures Law Against New Flu etc. as a cause for the government to declare a state of emergency.
Although the government does not anticipate to make this declaration any time soon considering the relatively slow spread of the infection, the enactment of the law sends out a signal to the public about the importance of containing the virus and the commitment of the government to do the utmost for that.
Once a state of emergency is declared by PM, governors of prefectures where heavily infected clusters were found, will be given power to limit private rights to contain the spread of the infection, obligate corporations to supply medical items constantly, and to restrict the use of such public facilities as schools. The bill was approved by both the upper house and the lower house of the Diet on March 13, and enacted as a law.
Justice Minister Masako Mori announced that the ministry decided to extend the validity of the Certificate of Eligibility from the present 3 months to 6 months so that foreigners, who have to come to Japan within 3 months since the CoE is granted, but cannot come due to the virus issue could wait for another 3 months.
Japan High School Baseball Federation announced on March 11 that due to the new coronavirus spreading, it would cancel the annual spring High School Baseball Tournament that was originally scheduled to be held at the Koshien Stadium of Hyogo Prefecture during the spring break.
It was the first time in its 92 years of history that the spring tournament was cancelled.
Although the federation had pondered the possibility of holding the tournament intact without spectators, it concluded that the risk of the players getting infected should still be high considering more than 40 baseball teams and their staff would be gathering in a relatively confined space near the stadium for a week or two.
The March Grand Sumo Tournament is currently being held in Osaka, but without spectators.
National Professional Baseball decided on March 9 that it would postpone this year’s opening of the two professional baseball leagues (Pacific League and Central League) from March 20 to sometime in April.
The Soccer J-League, which had suspended its official games since the end of February announced on March 9 that it would postpone the resumption of the games from March 18 to April 3.
Then, on March 10, PM Abe announced that his government asks event organizers to refrain from holding large scale events for another 10 days up to March 19. Simultaneously, PM announced the 2nd economic package to support individuals and SME, who are directly hit by the government request for shutting down their activity.
March 11 marked the 9th anniversary of the disaster of tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. 15,899 people were killed and 2,529 people are still missing. Besides, 3,701 people have died since 9 years ago due to the cause closely related to the disaster. 404,893 houses were washed out or destroyed by tsunami, and 47,737 people are still evaluated.
In the past 9 years, residential areas of the devastated prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima have been fully rebuilt with higher sea levels thanks to the raising constructions.
All the railway routes have been reconnected and restored as well as Joban Highway fully reconnected.
Besides, a new highway alongside the coast line is almost completed to connect cities between Aomori and Joban Highway in parallel with Tohoku Express Way that runs inside of the Tohoku area.
However, not many residents who evacuated from the hard-hit towns have not returned their original areas yet.
Rather, commercial complex like shopping malls and theme parks are being constructed expecting many visitors visiting from other Tohoku areas and even from Kanto area thanks to the improved accesses through the new highway etc.
Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is significantly delaying due to the difficulty of cleaning the debris of the nuclear fuel rods which were dropped on the bottom of the reactor containment vessel, where remote controlled robots’ access is limited.
Many American residents in Japan gathered at a booth prepared in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, and cast their vote for the Democratic Party’s Presidential Primary on March 8, NHK reported.
This voting is organized by the Democratic Party’s Japan Branch headed by Mr. John Baumlin.
I pray for your healthy and relaxing weekend!