With a skyrocketing number of new COVID-19 patients over the last few days, Japan appears to be edging closer to declaring a state of emergency, a measure the central government has characterized as a last resort in the battle against the deadly virus.

But how far can the central government really go under a state of emergency?

There have been concerns that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the central government could end up wielding wide-ranging and restrictive powers under the law. One reporter even questioned Abe at a news conference over the possibility that the declaration could be used as a steppingstone for more extreme controls that could undermine freedom of speech.