Understanding the Signs: Japan’s Second State of Emergency

On January 7, 2021, Japan issued its second major State of Emergency Declaration (緊急きんきゅう事態じたい宣言せんげん) since the coronavirus pandemic began. Initially covering only the jurisdictions in the Tōkyō metropolitan area, the declaration was expanded to eleven prefectures (都道府県とどうふけん) on January 13.

While the original 2020 declaration was broad enough to shut down most nonessential retailers, this third-wave announcement is more focused on reducing the hours and density of restaurants and other venues where people commonly gather. NHK’s news web site included a helpful summary of the specific restrictions. It was written in Japanese, but there are many web-based and browser-specific tools that can help translate such text for those who are not fluent in Japanese. Unfortunately, NHK has a habit of sometimes rendering key content as text-laden images instead of actual inline text. Such was the case this time around, which is surprising given the urgent nature of the content. Here is the graphic from the original web site, at least as it appeared in the early days of the second State of Emergency Declaration.


Request Summary Text in Japanese

To facilitate the use of translation tools, the entire text is reproduced below. Due to the overall length, furigana will not be included. An English translation follows.


  • 特に午後8時以降の不要不急の外出の自粛の徹底





  • 要請に応じた飲食店に対して協力金の支払いを行う都道府県を支援



  • 「出勤者の7割削減」目指す
  • テレワークやローテーション勤務などを強力に推進
  • 事業の継続に必要な場合を除き午後8時以降の勤務を迎える
  • 時差出勤や自転車通勤などの取り組みを進める


  • 人数の上限を収容人数の半分か5000人の少ない方とする
  • 開催時間を午後8時までに短縮する


  • 一律に臨時休校は求めない
  • 地域の状況に応じた感染防止策の徹底
  • 大学入学共通テスト・高校入試は、感染防止策など万全を期した上で予定通り実施
  • 保育所・放課後児童クラブなども感染防止策を徹底し、原則 開所


  • 都道府県をまたぐ移動は、基本的な感染防止策の徹底と、大人数の会食を控えるなど注意を促す


  • 新年のあいさつ回りや賀詞交換会などは自粛を
  • 成人式はオンラインでの開備や延期を


  • 感染や医療のひっ迫状況が「ステージ3」相当になっているかなど踏まえて総合的に判断




  • 食品衛生法の飲食店営業許可を受けている店舗などを除く遊興施設
  • 劇場・観覧場・映画館・演芸場
  • 集会場・公会堂・展示場
  • 物品販売業を営む1000平方メートルを超える店舗
  • ホテルや旅館で集会などに使用する部分
  • 運動施設・遊技場
  • 博物館・美術館・図書館
  • サービス業を営む1000平方メートルを超える店舗

Request Summary Text in English

Here is a translation of the image’s content into English.

Requests for Residents

  • In particular, the policy is to refrain from unnecessary and non-urgent outings after 8pm

Requests for Dining Establishments

Business Hours: Shorten closing to 8pm

Alcohol Service: 11am to 7pm

Financial Compensation

  • For establishments that abide by the restrictions, government will support prefectures that provide financial compensation

Requests for Businesspersons


  • Aim to reduce staff going into the office by 70%
  • Promote procedures like telecommuting and rotating work schedules
  • Unless necessary for business continuity, eliminate work duties beyond 8pm
  • Promote staggered work hours, bicycle commuting, and similar efforts


  • Limit entry to half of venue size or 5,000 individuals, whichever is lower
  • Venues to close by 8pm

Requests for Schools

  • Closure requests do not apply
  • Completely follow all infection prevention strategies based on local conditions
  • For university and high school entrance exams, continue as planned after following all infection prevention strategies
  • Nursery schools and after-school youth clubs to remain open after completely following all infection prevention strategies


  • When traveling to other prefectures, completely follow all infection prevention strategies
  • Be careful about dining together in large groups


  • Refrain from making the rounds for New Year’s greetings, or from attending New Year’s gatherings
  • Coming of Age ceremonies should move online or be postponed

Ending the [State of Emergency] Declaration

  • Comprehensive judgment based on whether infections, strain on medical care, and other factors fall to “Stage 3”

Additional Facility Recommendations Beyond Those Required by the Declaration

Business Hours: Shorten closing to 8pm

Alcohol Service: 11am to 7pm

  • Amusement facilities outside of those shops operating under the Food Sanitation Act
  • Theaters and performance halls
  • Meeting spaces and exhibition halls
  • Retail stores over 1,000 square meters
  • Meeting spaces at hotels and inns
  • Sports facilities and amusement parks
  • Museums, art galleries, and libraries
  • Shops over 1,000 square meters that provide services

Downloadable Content Available

Click here to access the vocabulary list for this article.

[Image Credits: NHK; 月舟/photo-ac.com]

Tim Odagiri

Tim Odagiri is an author, software developer, and the host of Japan Everyday. He has published more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles covering technology, current events, and now life in Japan. Find his latest books at OwaniPress.com.

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