This week’s news article is here to report on the latest COVID-19 and Olympics news in Japan, plus a groundbreaking ruling for same-sex marriage.
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This Week’s News Trends in Japan
Tokyo Area State of Emergency Set to End
A state of emergency imposed on Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba will be removed on Monday, a decision made this week. Government officials initially struggled to meet a consensus on whether to extend the state of emergency. But as hospital bed occupancy rates have decreased, the decision was finally made to lift emergency measures.
One of the measures was a request for eateries and drinking establishments to close by 8 PM. Now, a new request will be made for these establishments to close by 9 PM. A focus will be put on coronavirus testing as well, including mass testing in Tokyo and looking for those who test positive for variant strains.
Source: Japan Times
Japan to Begin Rolling Out Vaccinations for Elderly in April
Plans to vaccinate the public against the coronavirus have been established, focusing first on elderly citizens living in populous areas. The first to receive vaccines will include those aged 65 and older across at least 30 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Currently, health care workers are receiving vaccinations, and supplies for non-healthcare workers are expected to be limited. The first batches will include enough vaccines for around 2,000 people in highly populated areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kanagawa, while other regions will receive enough for around 1,000 initially.
The first vaccinations are planned for April 12.
Source: Japan Today
Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional
On Wednesday, the Sapporo District Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Currently, the constitution states that marriage requires “the mutual consent of both sexes,” interpreted to mean that marriage requires opposite-sex partners.
Though limited areas, such as Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards, do offer certificates to same-sex couples, these couples are still barred from many of the rights granted to married opposite-sex couples. And outside of these wards, same-sex couples generally have no access to recognition of their relationship. Furthermore, they often face social stigma and discrimination.
Though this court ruling does not legalize marriage, it offers a symbolic step towards change, both at the legal and social level, for same-sex couples.
Tokyo Olympic Ceremonies Chief Resigns After Insulting Idea Leaked
The creative director of the Tokyo Olympics ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, quit after his comments regarding celebrity Naomi Watanabe went public. The comments, made last year, included a proposal to have Watanabe, a famous plus-sized model, and celebrity, dress as a pig for the opening ceremony.
The idea was deemed inappropriate and met with criticism in the Olympics planning committee. However, after only being released to the public now, the backlash has grown, prompting Sasaki to resign. This resignation comes only one month after Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori stepped down after his own derogatory comments about women. The resignation also adds to the struggle faced by the Olympics committees during the pandemic, with many in disagreement over whether the Olympics should be held and how to safely do so.
Source: The Mainichi
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