"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by the Prime Minister on Considering an Extension of the Declaration of the State of Emergency

[Date] March 3, 2021
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

(On whether the Prime Minister is considering extending the declaration of the state of emergency)

After confirming the state of infections, we held consultations on how to respond going forward. As for the four prefectures [of Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Tokyo], we are approaching the March 7 end of the period covered by the declaration, and I consider our measures to prevent infections to be at a crucial stage. In addition, some indicators are still severe or right at the borderline, such as the occupancy rate of hospital beds, which remains under pressure, so I personally think that an extension of roughly two weeks is necessary in order to protect people's lives and livelihoods. In any case, I myself will ultimately make the decision after listening to the views of the experts and others involved in the matter.

(On the reason for making the extension period two weeks long)

That too is something that I intend to determine after hearing what the experts and other relevant persons have to say.

(On accepting overseas spectators at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games)

The Government is not examining this matter or giving it any other consideration. Nevertheless, the Government intends to provide assistance, working in cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Organising Committee.

(On the views held by the governors of the four prefectures of the Metropolitan area)

Needless to say, I will also listen to the views of the governors of the four prefectures of the Metropolitan area before rendering a decision. It is not the case that we have settled on the extension period being two weeks, but rather that I personally consider that roughly two weeks will be necessary. I will make the final decision on such matters after listening to the views of experts and other relevant persons.

(On why the Prime Minister announced today that an extension of the declaration was being considered)

The relevant ministers met yesterday as well. I also, as a matter of course, ascertain the situation over the phone with each of the relevant governors. I am aware of the situation even if it is through informal means. I have set out a direction by referring to information such as today's figures on the number of people who have tested positive and the occupancy rates of hospital beds from each of the four relevant prefectures, right down to the last few days, in a sense.

(On why the Prime Minister made the announcement before listening to the views of the experts)

On the whole, I have been listening to the experts' thinking on this matter. I have been listening to such people for the most part, and from now, I will attend to their views formally. So with that as the backdrop, the final decision is still to be made; it is not something that has already been made. I was articulating my own thoughts that the situation would require that number of days.

(On the responsibility held by the Prime Minister for extending the period of the declaration of the state of emergency)

What is important -- and the leaders of the local governments agree with me -- is to raise the level of alertness and make progress forward towards the goal. My role is to respond to the situation without letting our guard down.

(On the responsibility held by the Prime Minister for extending the period of the declaration of the state of emergency (follow-up question))

It is not the case that we have settled on extending the declaration. The remark that roughly two weeks would be necessary was an expression of my own thoughts on the matter, and after having met with the five relevant ministers, today I set that forth as an overall direction. The final decision is, of course, not something that can be made without going through various stages.

(On the indicators related to medical treatment structures)

In the four Metropolitan area prefectures, there are some areas where the medical systems are in fact under strain. They are in some cases, for example, right at the line of being deemed acceptable, or even when they have crossed the line into the "acceptable" level, they are only barely over the line. In light of that, we are now approaching the 7th, and I have been saying all along that I want to refer to the numbers right up to the end as much as possible. The result is that today, we laid out a direction for going forward.

(On the criteria for lifting the declaration of the state of emergency)

Currently, at Stage 3, the occupancy rate of hospital beds should be less than 50 percent, the number of cases of infection should be below 500 in the case of Tokyo, and so on. Those criteria are already established. While that is true, there are some areas under pressure in terms of their hospital bed occupancy rate. We consider it essential for that rate to be below 50 percent and for that number to be heading lower.

(On the differences between the four Metropolitan area prefectures and the prefectures where the declaration has already been lifted)

The areas where the declaration was lifted were all experiencing downtrends in their indicators. They were all heading towards Stage 2, at a point where we could for the most part say they were at Stage 2. With regard to that, I think you know this better than anyone, but in the Metropolitan area, the number of new infections appears to have not quite bottomed out yet. That is the difference between the two.