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Japanese archbishop urges strict rules as Covid-19 soars

Churches in Tokyo Archdiocese will have limited numbers of participants who must observe social distancing

UCA News reporter, Tokyo

UCA News reporter, Tokyo

Published: April 15, 2021 06:57 AM GMT

Updated: April 15, 2021 02:58 PM GMT

Japanese archbishop urges strict rules as Covid-19 soars

Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo. (Photo: UCA News)

Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo has urged the faithful to strictly follow emergency rules as regions across Japan experience a spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Japan has recorded more than 512,000 cases and 9,422 deaths from Covid-19, according to government data. Some 469,000 people have recovered.

In recent weeks, various regions and prefectures including capital Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Okinawa have seen a rise in infections, prompting the government to enforce lockdown rules to curb the virus.

Osaka, home to some 8.8 million people, recorded 905 cases on April 8, according to Channel News Asia. Tokyo recorded 537 cases on April 9.

Starting from April 9, Tokyo was placed in a month-long quasi-emergency, less than a month after a broader state of emergency was lifted.

Last year Japan postponed the Summer Olympics Tokyo 2020 due to the pandemic. The event scheduled to take place from July 23 to Aug. 8 this year but without foreign spectators.

The infection situation does not seem to be coming to an end

"We ask that people refrain from unnecessary travel between prefectures as much as possible," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in televised remarks last week.

In a message to Catholic faithful on April 12, Archbishop Kikuchi requested people to follow measures put forth by the government.

“Covid-19 infections continue to spread even now, and the reported numbers of people who tested positive in some areas are still increasing day by day. Although we are fortunate to have celebrated together the Holy Week this year, the infection situation does not seem to be coming to an end,” Archbishop Kikuchi said.

The prelate noted the 23 special wards and six cities covered by Tokyo Archdiocese — Hachioji City, Tachikawa City, Musashino City, Fuchu City, Chofu City and Machida City — designated to be under pandemic measures from April 12 to May 11.

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Archbishop Kikuchi reminded people about government regulations and appealed them to refrain from non-essential and non-urgent travel, to avoid crowded places and times and to wear masks during meals and conversations.

Churches in Tokyo Archdiocese will have limited numbers of participants and each will have to maintain one meter distance from others and all should wear masks. All participants are requested to refrain from singing or praying all together.

The elderly and people with chronic illness are advised to pray at home and all faithful of the archdiocese have been excused of the obligation to attend Sunday Masses.

All activities where people meet face to face such as meetings, assemblies, gatherings and study groups should be conducted online where possible, the message noted.

As people in Tokyo have become accustomed to such measures, the prelate called on them to “renew commitments.”

“Brothers and sisters in the archdiocese, priests, religious and all the faithful, let us once again take extra care, supporting each other, encouraging one another, and praying together so that we may triumph as one over these difficult times as we all walk hand in hand,” Archbishop Kikuchi said.

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