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Abe weighs declaring emergency under Japan's new legislation

Prefecture governors will be given authority to close schools, theaters and stores

A subway in Kyoto: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now has the power to declare an emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese lawmakers on Friday gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the authority to declare a state of emergency if the new-coronavirus outbreak escalates, giving authorities more options for curtailing its spread.

COVID-19 was added to legislation that deals with influenza, allowing Abe to make the declaration as early as Saturday if the disease poses a clear and serious threat to the lives or health of citizens and if a rapid nationwide spread would severely impact people's lives and economic well-being.

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