Japan’s Abe gets emergency powers to fight coronavirus

TOKYO (Agencies): Japan’s parliament on Friday approved a bill to enable Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declare state of emergency to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

The law, passed in Japan’s upper house of parliament Diet, will remain valid for two years, local Kyodo news reported.

The lower house passed the draft law on Thursday after three days of debate.

“It’s important to carefully make a judgment based on various expert opinions given the grave impact (a declaration) would have on people’s everyday life,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference after the bill was passed.

“At this point, we are not in a situation in which a state of emergency needs to be declared immediately,” the top government spokesman said.

Abe is facing criticism for “being slow to act” to contain the outbreak which has caused global scare with countries announcing mass lockdown.

Japan has confirmed 675 cases of coronavirus, besides 696 other people infected by the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

There have bee 23 fatalities reported in the country, of which seven were on the cruise ship.

The global death toll is now over 4,900, with more than 134,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has declared the outbreak a “pandemic.”