After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a nationwide state of emergency on April 16, Japanese citizens were urged to suspend their travel plans and stay home until the declaration is lifted. However, there are no penalties for defying the call to stay home, leading some to wonder if stronger measures are necessary. The people of Okinawa prefecture are especially concerned that tourist numbers might surge over the Golden Week holidays.
Golden Week is Japan's longest public holiday and the beach resorts of Okinawa are normally packed with people during this period. In his declaration of emergency, Abe appealed for all citizens to refrain from travelling until May 6, but this has not stopped some overzealous tourists from hitting the tropical islands regardless.
Out of growing fear that even more visitors will come after the current state of emergency expires, a group of local activists started a campaign to deter people from vacationing in Okinawa this spring. The 'Okinawa Yagumai Project' – 'yagumai' is Okinawan slang for 'stay home' – aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of the pandemic on the islands.
The campaign has produced a number of digital banners with photographs of Okinawa's famous landmarks overlaid with all the reasons not to visit Okinawa right now. The banner above with Okinawa's Shureimon gates cites closed beaches, closed leisure facilities, and hospitals that have surpassed their maximum capacity. As of April 22, there are at least 112 people in Okinawa tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus and the islands reportedly do not have the means to effectively treat any more people.
For updates on Covid-19 coronavirus in Tokyo and Japan see here.
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