Tokyo, Jan. 18 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday approved a special coronavirus law amendment aimed at punishing noncompliant businesses under a state of emergency declared by the central government over the epidemic.
The bill stipulates administrative fines of up to 500,000 yen for businesses that do not follow prefectural governors’ requests to suspend or shorten operations.
It also allows measures to be taken to prevent the virus from spreading widely even before the declaration of a state of emergency in order for authorities to deal more flexibly with the epidemic depending on infection situations.
Specifically, the prime minister will designate prefectures subject to the measures and set the period in which they are in place, and the governors of affected prefectures will be authorized to request and order businesses to change operating hours. Noncompliant operators will face administrative fines up to 300,000 yen. The governors will also be able to request citizens not to use such facilities, while the prime minister can issue instructions to governors who fail to take these measures.
In addition, the bill spells out that necessary measures should be implemented in an effective way to support establishments that shorten business hours or suspend operations as requested by governors.
To secure beds for coronavirus patients, hotels and other facilities will be used as temporary medical facilities under the revised law to fight the epidemic, even in areas not covered by a state of emergency.
The LDP also approved a bill to revise the infectious disease law to introduce a jail term of up to one year or criminal fines of up to 1 million yen for infected people who reject hospitalization or leave hospitals without permission.
Infected people who refuse to cooperate with public health authorities’ active epidemiological surveys to identify infection routes will be criminally punished with fines of up to 500,000 yen.
The bill also has a clause allowing prefectural governors and the central government to urge hospitals to accept coronavirus patients.
The government and the ruling bloc aim to have both amendments plus a bill to revise the quarantine law enacted in early February, during the ordinary session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, that started on Monday.