Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday expressed his wish to revise a law concerning the fight against the novel coronavirus during the regular session of the Diet starting next month.
Suga called for such a revision during his talks with Hakubun Shimomura, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council, Shimomura told reporters.
The government will accelerate work to draw up details of the revision to the special measures law, which deals with the government response to dangerous infectious diseases.
The focus will be on whether to set penalties for those who refuse to abide by the authorities’ business suspension requests issued during a state of emergency.
Until now, the government planned to revise the law after the virus crisis settles down.
It apparently changed its mind, however, amid rising criticism that the government has been slow to take action to contain the crisis.
Meanwhile, there is strong opposition among the public over the idea of giving authorities more power to limit the rights of individuals.
Diet deliberations on the matter could be explosive, depending on details of the revision.
On Friday, the LDP’s coronavirus task force compiled an interim report regarding a revision to the special measures law during the next Diet session. Later, Shimomura briefed Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on the report at a policy meeting of the government and the ruling bloc.
“I also think that we should revise it during next year’s regular Diet session,” said Suga, who also attended the meeting.
At a news conference later in the day, Kato said that the government will carry out a drastic revision to the law after the virus crisis ends. But he also said, “We’ll respond promptly if there is anything that requires a timely response.”
In its report, the LDP stressed the importance of regional efforts to avoid a situation that requires the government to declare another coronavirus state of emergency, saying that the impact of an emergency declaration on the economy is massive.
In particular, it is necessary for the law to have a clear stipulation on the prefectural governors’ authorities to issue business hour reduction requests, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the LDP was not clear about whether a legal framework should be established for punishments and compensation related to business suspension requests issued during a state of emergency.
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