The Japanese CERO rating board has been temporarily closed until early May. There's a good chance this will have an impact on upcoming game release schedules.
Earlier today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus situation. As part of the declaration, Japanese citizens in a number of prefectures must stay at home. Naturally, CERO's home prefecture of Tokyo is one of the affected areas, so CERO says it's shutting its doors. In a press release, the rating board said it "will not be able to receive examination materials", meaning it can't offer ratings to any games during the period of its closure. The rating board also says it's impossible for its employees to work from home as it regularly receives visits from outside judges.
Japan's state of emergency is set to last until at least May 6th, so you can expect CERO to remain closed until at least that time. A report on Japanese news site Automaton Media suggests that this is news to some video game publishers. Automaton spoke to two industry insiders, one of whom said that the lack of ratings on new titles would be "very troublesome" for their company in the near future. According to Automaton, though, some publishers say that CERO reviews games a few months before release, so we likely won't see the effects of its closure until the summertime.
As it stands, the Japanese state of emergency is in place until May 6th. CERO says it will announce more details regarding the resuming of its operations "in the future". Until then, though, it looks like any Japanese gaming publisher - or overseas publisher looking for a Japanese rating - will need to sit tight and wait for more info. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.
How do you feel about the temporary closure of CERO? Let us know in the comments below!