Tokyo's Archbishop Isao Kikuchi is the former bishop of the Niigata diocese in Northwestern Japan, and, because that diocese remains vacant, he is still entrusted with its leadership.
With the appearance of multiple positive tests for the coronavirus in Niigata City in recent days, the archbishop has now cancelled all public Masses in the Niigata dioceses, which will be effective from March 3rd until the 21st.
In an official statement, Archbishop Kikuchi of Tokyo stated, "It was pointed out that with the rate of the spread of infections at this time, the next two weeks is crucial for the prevention of outbreaks, thus recommending to refrain from holding gatherings with [an] unspecified number of people."
The archbishop, in a letter to the faithful, explained that failure to attend Mass will not violate the spiritual obligations of Catholics. Instead, the archbishop encouraged personal worship at home, away from public areas.
"For March 1 and 8, all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Tokyo will be exempted from their obligations to attend Sunday Mass," said Archbishop Kikuchi. "I recommend everyone to find time to read the Bible and offer prayers. We are looking at the possibility of broadcasting the Mass via the internet, and [in such cases], I encourage participation by viewing the live Mass in the act of spiritual communion."
Weekday Masses will also be cancelled. The archdiocese has also asked parish members to consider cancelling personal gatherings, and discouraged any events where food and drink is intended to be served.