The coronavirus crisis came into light in Japan in January 2020. Subsequently, a group of medical experts and legal specialists were convened ad hoc in the Cabinet Office and related ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, to decide on issues such as how to respond to the problems by utilizing IT such as CoronaApps. Other issues were also decided such as how to respond to immigration control, how to amend the Infectious Diseases Special Measures Act, etc. In this presentation, the issues of expertise control is discussed in the way that the government should be prepared for the utilization of experts with agencies that may be independent but attached to relevant administrative organizations. This presentation provides possible clues to administrative organization and expert control issues that is not limited to coronavirus-related issues.
The 1946 constitution does not have an emergency clause and dealing with an extraordinary situation such as a pandemic would be implemented exclusively through laws set by the Diet. This paper explores the characteristics of the Japanese legal framework against Covid-19. The first feature is non-coercive. Although the central government has the authority to declare a state of emergency, the emergency declaration, regardless of its name, does not entail criminal penalties, but merely requires restaurants and theaters to close voluntarily. The second feature is decentralized. Most of the powers to set specific measures are not vested in the central government, but in the local prefectures. In addition, the practice has even emerged that emergency declarations are issued following requests from prefectures. Usually, in an extraordinary situation, it is predicted that strong powers would be concentrated to the central government, but this is not necessarily the case in Japan at present.
Among the many ways of dealing with the global pandemic, South Korea has been lauded for its initial response in containing the spread of the virus. With its centralized aggressive tracking and testing policy, combined with non-compulsory measures backed by voluntary compliance, many viewed the Korean model as a balanced approach between respect for personal rights and mandatory regulations. But with the passage of time, amounting fatigue against the many imposed restrictions and their impact on the economy led to an increasing level of discontentment among the people against such policies. Realizing that public cooperation is vital in successfully counteracting the spread of COVID, the Korean government made many adjustments, sometimes at the cost of discarding more effective measures. The research tracks this evolution of government regulations over time and hopes to shed light on the relation between public receptivity and a successful regulatory scheme.
The success of Vietnam in controlling Covid-19 has been linked to the advantages of the centralized state under the Communist Party and acknowledging the public interests over individual rights. In this regard, Vietnam’s perspective of a restricted rule of law and protection of rights during the period of Covid-19 is seen as being successful. Besides, the achievement of Vietnam is based on the exercise of good governance principles, which include openness, transparency, responsibility, public participation, and social consensus. The authors believe that thanks to applying the principles of good governance, the excessive human rights restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic have been blurred. While the application of good governance principles in an emergency should be encouraged and is a good practice that Vietnam should share with other countries, the excessive limitation of the rule of law and human rights would create a bad premise for the country in Vietnam in the coming years.
How does China normalize unusual social control in its battle against the long pandemic? At the heart of China’s “normalization” strategy is to enforce “bounded state of emergency”—delimiting intrusive and burdensome control by territorialized management of local boundaries. The paper traces how China's boundary administration constructs spatial division in pre-pandemic everyday life. Such practice of state power not only prepares infrastructures and institutions to monitor and control boundary-crossing, but also perpetuates spatial differentiation and legitimizes the state’s space-specific regulations of cross-boundary flow. Drawing on the case of Beijing-Hebei boundary, the paper finds that China’s boundary management is effective in combating sporadic cases and local outbreaks, and more importantly, in normalizing burdens imposed on millions of boundary-crossers. It sheds light on the enduring importance of territorial control in understanding how China is governed.