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Amid rise in cases, Japan rethinks carefree attitude to Covid-19

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In Japan, where authorities have neither carried out mass testing of the population nor imposed a lockdown, the number of coronavirus cases is now on the rise. Even though a state of emergency was imposed on April 7 and social distancing was already a way of life before the pandemic, many Japanese are continuing to go to work, while many shops, restaurants and bars remain open. Today, concern is spreading across the archipelago. Our correspondents report from Tokyo.

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The number of coronavirus infections in Japan has risen sharply since the beginning of April, particularly in big cities. Japan doesn't conduct large-scale testing, but faced with the rise in infections, it's now testing four times as many people a day as it did two weeks ago.

Unlike in other countries, Japanese authorities are not allowed by law to impose fines or other penalties on people who refuse to stay home. That relaxed approach is partly down to bitter memories of World War II. While Paris and New York have been under lockdown, daily life in Tokyo can seem almost normal, with many people still going to work.

Late last month, people were still picnicking in parks, enjoying the country’s famed cherry blossoms. But those carefree days are over. As Japan prepares for several days of public holidays, the government's message is clear: stay at home and save lives.

>> Covid-19: Postponing the Olympics, Japan's costly conundrum

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