Abe Making Final Arrangements To Declare Emergency

Abe making final arrangements to declare emergency

Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is making final arrangements to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak as early as Tuesday.

The issuance of the order has been made possible under a revised law that was enacted last month.

Under the law, the prime minister has to consult a government advisory panel of health experts. The government has told these experts that a meeting will be held between Tuesday and Thursday.

Coronavirus infections are surging in Tokyo and other major cities, putting strain on the medical system. The infection routes cannot be traced in an increasing number of cases.

On Monday afternoon, Abe is expected to discuss the issue with the minister in charge of the law, Nishimura Yasutoshi, and the panel chief, Omi Shigeru.

The prime minister will be able to declare a state of emergency after the panel meeting if two conditions are met. The first is that the outbreak must pose a grave threat to people's lives and health. The second is when the rapid nationwide spread of the virus is likely to have a huge negative impact on people's daily livelihoods and the nation's economy.

The declaration should specify the areas and the time frame for the emergency measures.

Prefectural governors in the designated areas will then ask residents to stay at home, except for essential reasons.

The governors can also order school closures and limit access to large facilities such as department stores and movie theaters.

Local governments would be able to set up temporary hospitals without the consent of the owners of the land or buildings.

Officials would be able to order transport companies to deliver medicines or medical equipment in urgent cases. They would also be able to expropriate medicines.