With face masks on, many Japanese headed to work as usual April 13, the first business day since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a 70% reduction in commuters to curb new coronavirus infections.
Some workers voiced difficulty in following Abe’s request due to the nature of their jobs. Others said they could not do everything at home even as teleworking had gradually become part of their everyday life nearly a week after a state of emergency was declared for Tokyo and six other prefectures in Japan.
Tokyo’s JR Shimbashi Station, normally bustling with businesspeople, was quieter than usual.
“I’m aware of the 70% cut (in commuting), but I can’t take time off from work,” said a 69-year-old man who is in the medical field.
A 58-year-old, whose job involves purchasing goods for supermarkets, said, “I’ve been teleworking recently, and I go outside when I have no other choice.”
Japan has been battling to stem a further surge in coronavirus infections, with people in the prefectures covered by the emergency declaration asked to avoid nonessential outings.
Tokyo confirmed 91 additional cases of new coronavirus infections on April 13, bringing the total to 2,158 in the capital, which has a population of about 14 million.
To lift the state of emergency on May 6, Abe has said people need to reduce contact with others by as much as 80%. (Kyodo)