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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 11 - 17  > Koike: JCP opposes Abe’s COVID-19 countermeasures law that will put excessive restrictions on human rights
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2020 March 11 - 17 [POLITICS]

Koike: JCP opposes Abe’s COVID-19 countermeasures law that will put excessive restrictions on human rights

March 11, 2020
Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira at a press conference on March 10 said that the JCP will oppose a bill aimed at enabling the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in regard to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The bill, which was approved by the Cabinet earlier on the same day, will add COVID-19 to the list of diseases in the special measures law on countermeasures against new types influenza and other infectious diseases.

Under the special measures law, the prime minister can proclaim a state of emergency when deemed necessary. After the state of emergency is declared, governors will be authorized to cancel public gatherings and issue a self-quarantine request to prefectural residents. The prime minister can give governors specific instructions regarding these measures. With the special measures law, the prime minister can have the power to restrict people’s rights to freedom of assembly and movement.

However, criteria set under the special measures law to implement measures that will put restrictions on human rights are vague. For example, a request to cancel public gatherings can be issued when it is regarded as necessary to prevent the spread of an infectious disease and avoid creating chaos among the public and businesses. This request could be abused to limit the freedom of assembly.

The Abe government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in the last several weeks has shown the general public how harmful an arbitrary decision made by a person in power can be. PM Abe issued a de facto order to close all schools nationwide without consulting experts or listening to the opinions of school administrators, which caused great confusion among teachers, students, and parents.

In the nation’s history, there were many cases where abuse of power by the government trampled on human rights at times of emergency, such as the Great Kanto Earthquake and during the war. The current Japanese Constitution does not have a clause pertaining to implementing a state of emergency because it denies the concentration of power in a dictatorial leadership style in the event of emergency.
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