The Japanese government is considering giving greater legal authority to prefectural governors in an effort to respond to the spread of the coronavirus more effectively.
Under the plan, governors will be allowed to order business operators in their prefecture to change operating hours even before the central government declares a state of emergency.
Government officials explained the idea at a meeting of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday.
The idea is included in a bill the officials plan to submit to the ordinary session of the Diet due to be convened next Monday. The move is aimed at making an anti-coronavirus law more effective.
The bill would say once the central government picks certain prefectures as targets of what it calls "preventive measures," governors there would be allowed to request that business operators change their hours.
In cases where an operator refuses to comply with such a request, a governor would be authorized to order an on-site inspection and impose a fine.
The bill would include a provision for the central and local governments to offer financial aid to operators who comply with a governor's requests.
The bill would also revise the Infectious Disease Control Law to penalize the infected if they refuse to comply with requests such as self-quarantining.
Officials say the government will hear opinions from the opposition camp on Wednesday and hopes to get cabinet approval as early as next week.