Suga forced to compromise on virus penalties as revised bills reach Diet

The Lower House began debating bills to stifle the novel coronavirus Friday, following a deal cut by the ruling coalition and the largest opposition party to eliminate provisions on criminal punishments and lower the values of nonpenal fines.

The Liberal Democratic Party and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) reached an agreement Thursday evening before the bills were introduced to the Diet floor — a highly unusual process since they had been approved already by the Cabinet.

The series of developments reflect Suga’s desperation to blunt the speed of virus transmission and stamp out criticism from opposition parties over his handling of the pandemic, by bringing them to the ruling parties’ side and accepting their demands.

“These proposals include necessary revisions to raise the effectiveness of infectious disease control measures, by establishing stipulations on compensation and penalties while rights of individuals and businesses people are taken into account,” Suga said Friday afternoon, asking for swift Diet deliberations and approval.

“We need to suppress the infection to make our measures more effective, based on the knowledge and experience we’ve gained through the past year.”

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