From Yomiuri Shinbun (1/10/2012):
The Japanese government has decided to enact a special measures law in preparation for a new influenza epidemic with high toxicity and infectivity.
The main point of the new law will be the enforcement power given to the national government in an epidemic of a new virulent influenza. If the government declares "a state of emergency", the government can implement the voluntary ban on leaving home and order the cancellation of assembly. Under the new law, the government will define the preventive measures against the spread of infection and the social disorder as "national crisis management". It will be a new effort under the legal framework for the state of emergency. The government will submit the special measures law in the ordinary session of the Diet, and plans to win approval.
In Japan, there was an epidemic of a new influenza in 2009, but the influenza was avirulent and the symptoms were relatively mild. However, if a virulent influenza spreads, a social disorder can be expected. Therefore, the government has decided that the legal enforcement [of measures] is necessary in order to prevent the spread of influenza and the social disorder.
What are they going to do? Sending the riot police to disperse people when the administration declares, true or false, a virulent new strain of influenza is on the loose?
This Yomiuri article is categorized as "politics", meaning it was written by a reporter in the politics division at Yomiuri Shinbun. In any newspaper, the politics division usually has the most clout within the paper, an "elite" division compared to the "3rd page" society division or the science division, for example. They do not necessarily know the scientific or legal implications behind what they are writing.
Right now, probably more people than are comfortable to the government officials are gathering in all sorts of places, from a tent village near the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to a citizens' workshop to learn about nuclear reactor stress test in Europe. Or the spontaneous gathering on December 19, 2011 of people who were against the administration's policies ready to shout down the prime minister who turned around and head home on the news of the death of the North Korean dear leader.
Fast and furious. Preemptive strike of some sort, using an influenza epidemic/pandemic threat. (You can call me paranoid.)