April 10, 2020 at 12:22 JST
Pedestrians watch a live broadcast of a news conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he declared a state of emergency on April 7 in Tokyo. (AP Photo)
As Japan enters a coronavirus state of emergency, millions of people are being asked to stay at home--but often that means staying indoors in tiny living spaces, especially in densely populated Tokyo.
According to Japanese government data, the average home in Tokyo is 65.9 square meters. But only two thirds of that is considered “dwelling” space, meaning just 41 square meters for eating, cooking, sleeping and entertainment. (For a graphic visualizing Tokyo’s small homes, see https://reut.rs/2y0IYwn.)
On average, two people live in a Tokyo home, data show, meaning every person has very limited space in which to live at an already anxious time.
Tetsuro Tanaka, 27, and his partner live in a 33-square-meter flat in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward. Now that they are both working from home, for different companies, life has become complex, he said.
“We have to think about how that is going to work, such as protecting confidential information and such,” Tanaka said. “And now that it is both of us, our place is going to be a bit cramped.”
The state of emergency, which gives authorities more power to press people to stay at home and businesses to close, will last a month and be imposed in the capital, Tokyo, and six other prefectures, accounting for about 44 percent of Japan’s population.
Japan has about 5,685 cases of people infected by the coronavirus, and 116 people have died.
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