Japanese Parliament Passes Controversial Anti-Conspiracy Bill Amid Protests

  • Japanese Parliament Passes Controversial Anti-Conspiracy Bill Amid Protests

Japanese Parliament Passes Controversial Anti-Conspiracy Bill Amid Protests

The upper house of parliament passed the conspiracy bill early Thursday after political wrangling through the night, overcoming the weak opposition's no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet and a censure motion aimed at Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda.

"It's only three years until the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and so I'd like to ratify the treaty on organized crime as soon as possible so we can firmly cooperate with global society to prevent terrorism", Prime Minister Abe told reporters.

Opponents perceive that the legislation is a part of Abe's broader mission to increase state powers, and fears that ordinary citizens could be targeted, despite government assurances to the contrary.

The Japanese government argues that the law is needed to thoroughly improve their security ahead of the 2020 Olympics and the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and to also comply with a United Nations agreement that Japan has signed.

"The law to punish terrorism preparation has just (been) enacted", the PM said Thursday.

A sizable crowd had assembled the previous day to protest outside parliament.

The Japanese Upper House of Parliament approved an amendment to the organised crime law which will penalise for the first time criminal conspiracy, which is defined as an organisation or group of persons planning to commit a crime (out of a total of 277 typified), or to prepare for it, reports Efe news.

"It's only three years until the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and so I'd like to ratify the treaty on organised crime as soon as possible so we can firmly cooperate with worldwide society to prevent terrorism", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

In a letter to the Japanese government on May 18, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, Joseph Cannataci, criticized the breadth of the legislation, including the wide range of crimes which people can be arrested for planning.

The lower house had cleared the Bill on May 23. Earlier versions encompassed more than 600 crimes, many unrelated to terrorism or crime syndicates.

But even the slimmed-down legislation gives police and investigators too much leeway, some said.

"What's the rush? I can not help but think the way the bill is being steamrolled represents the government's wish to hurry up and end the Diet session", Renho said.

"This is an ultimate form of forced vote - it shut down sensible debate in the upper house", Renho, head of the leading opposition Democratic Party who goes by one name, told reporters.

The legislative win paves the way for Abe to push ahead with his long-held ambition to revise the pacifist constitution that has defined Japan's security policy since the second world war.