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Legislation on virus response clears lower house committee

  • March 12, 2020
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All national dailies reported that the GOJ-sponsored legislation on responding to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus cleared the Lower House Cabinet Committee on Wednesday after only three hours of deliberations. While most opposition parties endorsed the bill, they adopted an accompanying resolution asking the government to report to the Diet in advance if it decides to declare a state of emergency. The opposition had initially insisted on including a provision mandating parliamentary consent prior to issuing such a declaration. On the possibility of the central and local governments taking measures to contain the disease that would drastically compromise civil liberties, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura, who is responsible for the legislation, said during yesterday’s committee hearing that the Abe administration is determined to do its utmost to bring the outbreak under control quickly so that it does not have to play its “trump card.” He added that since the legislation contains the phrase “respect for basic human rights,” restrictions on civil liberties will be kept to a minimum. The bill is expected to be approved by the plenary session of the Lower House today for additional deliberation at the Upper House before it is enacted tomorrow.     

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