Law on new flu outbreaks enacted

JIJI

The Diet on Friday enacted a bill to prevent the spread of virulent new forms of influenza through measures that could include new powers to restrict citizens’ rights.

The bill was approved in the Upper House by a majority vote with support mainly from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and New Komeito, the second-biggest opposition force.

The Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party voted against it, while the opposition leader, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, boycotted the meeting.

If a new type of flu breaks out in Japan or abroad, the central and local governments will set up task forces, quarantine people attempting to enter Japan, and order doctors to examine those suspected of being infected, according to the new law.

The law authorizes the prime minister to declare a state of emergency if the “health and lives of Japanese people are at serious risk.” Such a declaration could stay in force for up to three years.