Japan (MNN) — The world’s most populous city is now under a state of emergency thanks to soaring COVID-19 infections. Japan reported 6,100 new cases on Thursday, with roughly half coming from Tokyo. The emergency declaration began Friday and will end on February 7.“

Over the Christmas into New Year’s holidays, we couldn’t change the trend of steep [infection] increases, especially in the bigger cities. Hokkaido and Osaka requested ‘state of emergency’-type restrictions; however, Tokyo never went into that stage,” Takeshi Takazawa explains.

Takazawa was born and raised in Tokyo and currently serves as Vice President for Strategic Engagement for Asian Access. From 2015-'17, he served as National Director of A2/Japan. “Because of [the economy], Tokyo never went into a state of emergency or major restrictions,” he says.

“We just continued [our routine], hoping that people will somehow prevent transferring the virus or receiving the virus, but it didn’t work.”

Uncertainty surrounds the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, previously rescheduled for Summer 2021. More about that here.

Church workers adapt to overcome

Critics say the current restrictions on Tokyo aren’t strong enough to keep the surge contained. “[They are] milder than before; it’s more targeted restrictions,” Takazawa says.

(Photo by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash)While schools remain open, “people are discouraged from leaving home after 8 pm, that’s number one. Number two is 70% of all the workers, that’s the target, [should stay] home [and] work remotely,” Takazawa says, describing two primary changes under the state of emergency orders.

Believers may not be meeting in-person right now, but God is still using them in mighty ways.

“We’ve been helping church leaders to minister online since April of last year. Eight times, [once] every month, about 100 Japanese pastors get together online [to] discuss issues and spiritual health,” Takazawa says.

On a practical level, “we’re emphasizing listening – listening to God more, and listening to people more, not talking all the time because [the] airborne transmission risk is very high,” he continues.

“Even in a small group [setting] we try to listen; to explore listening to the issues of the people rather than [going] out to tell people.”

Learn how you can support church leaders in Japan through Asian Access. Most importantly, keep praying for Japan. “Whenever we see the news, that’s the call for prayer – ‘God, have mercy on us, we’re all struggling,” Takazawa says. These trials are testing believers’ faith, but strengthening their hope.

“We cannot do anything without Jesus Christ, so pray that we remain in Him.”


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