Japan's Prime Minister proposed Monday's state of emergency for several large regions where the number of coronavirus cases is increasing, and a $ 1 trillion stimulus package to mitigate the impact on the world's third largest economy.
The official statement of the state of emergency would likely come on Tuesday, Shinzo Abe told reporters when the country is struggling with a recent surge in coronavirus cases, particularly in the capital, Tokyo.
"We are currently seeing a rapid rise in new infections, especially in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka," said Abe.
The statement gives regional governors the power to ask residents to stay in the house, to close companies that attract large crowds, and to command land and buildings for medical purposes.
But it lags far behind the blocking measures imposed in parts of Europe in which the police patrolled the streets and fined offenders.
"We anticipate that we will continue to ask the Japanese people to work together for a period of approximately one month to reduce personal contacts that lead to infections," said Shinzo Abe.
The measure does not include legal powers to enforce requests to people to stay indoors or penalties for those who do not.
"In Japan, even if we declare a state of emergency, we will not close cities as seen abroad. Experts have told us that such a step is not necessary," said Shinzo Abe.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has already urged the capital's residents to avoid unnecessary weekend trips and to work from home during the week.
Concern about medical facilities in Tokyo is growing. Doctors say the situation is expanding and staff are overcrowded.
"From a medical point of view, Tokyo faces a critical condition," said Haruo Ozaki, head of the Tokyo Medical Association.
The measures lack teeth, which can be seen in other parts of the world, and experts say that the Japanese legal system limits the government's ability to restrict the movement of citizens.
"Japan is still haunted by the negative legacy of war and the oppression of its citizens," said Yoshinobu Yamamoto, emeritus professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo.
But he said if the relatively relaxed measures proved insufficient to curb the spread of the coronavirus, "a stronger power to control people could grow."
Japan has so far been spared the crisis in parts of Europe and the United States with around 3,650 cases nationwide – compared to around 330,000 in the United States and around 130,000 in Italy and Spain.
Abe amazed the country in late February by calling for schools to be closed nationwide at a time when there were only a handful of cases and few other countries had taken such action.
However, a recent surge in cases, particularly in Tokyo, has raised concerns again. New cases in the capital have set records almost daily – 148 on Sunday and 83 cases on Monday – still far below the numbers seen elsewhere, but enough to take official action.
Regardless, Abe unveiled a stimulus package worth around 108 trillion yen, worth 20 percent of GDP, "an unprecedented magnitude".
However, Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at SuMi TRUST, said it would not ensure that Japan avoided a recession in the first half of 2020, "but would start a V-shaped recovery in the second half."
The Japanese economy fluctuated before the outbreak of the corona virus, with growing fear of a recession.
The Dai-ichi research institute said that additional restrictions in Tokyo should lower Japanese GDP by 5.1 trillion yen ($ 47 billion) for a month.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to July 2021 is also likely to impact part of the country's GDP, although the losses should be made up for at the start of the games.
Like other major central banks, the Bank of Japan has introduced immediate measures to contain economic damage.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)