Andy Sharp reports: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government passed controversial legislation that gives prosecutors the power to monitor and arrest people in the planning stages of crimes.
As dawn broke in Tokyo on Thursday, bleary-eyed lawmakers voted to pass the so-called anti-conspiracy bill, which the government says is needed to bolster counter-terrorism precautions ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Opposition lawmakers pulled out an array of political tricks to delay the vote until morning.
Under the bill, terrorist groups or criminal organizations could be punished for the planning of 277 crimes, which range from arson to copyright violation. Critics say the legislation is vague and could lead to the suppression of civil liberties and excessive state surveillance.
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 World War II. Last month, he proposed an amendment to recognize the existence of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces while maintaining Article 9, which renounces the right to war and prohibits land, sea and air forces. He wants the change to take effect by 2020.
“This fits Abe’s agenda in the run-up to a prospective national referendum on constitutional revision, and Japan’s possible involvement in future wars,” said Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. “Both of these would require new means to control unruly citizens who object to government decisions.” … (read more)
Anti-terror bill enacted after bypassing committee vote
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Diet enacted controversial anti-terrorism legislation on Thursday after the ruling coalition overcame fierce overnight resistance from most opposition parties and railroaded it by taking an unusual step of bypassing a committee vote.
The House of Councillors approved the bill by a majority vote with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner, Komeito, and Nippon Ishin no Kai, an opposition party.
The bill, which cleared the House of Representatives last month, is designed to criminalize planning and preparations to commit serious crimes, including terrorist attacks, through revisions to the organized crime punishment law. The law covers a total of 277 types of crimes punishable by imprisonment of at least four years.
The upper house Judicial Affairs Committee skipped a vote on the bill after the ruling camp stepped out of line with parliamentary protocol and resorted to an “interim report,” which enabled a vote in the full chamber without committee approval.
The law will be enforced in July at the earliest.
In the voting on the bill, which was held in an upper house plenary meeting after a tense tug of war that continued all night, 165 voted in favor and 70 opposed … (read more)
Source: The Japan News