Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and members of his cabinet stand after a no-confidence motion against them was rejected in the lower house plenary session early Thursday. Photo: Kyodo
politics

'Conspiracy' law enacted through rare Diet tactic

28 Comments

The Diet on Thursday enacted contentious legislation to criminalize the planning of serious crimes, which the government says will help thwart terrorism but opponents claim could lead to the suppression of civil liberties and excessive state surveillance.

The amendment to the law on organized crime cleared a vote in a plenary session of the House of Councillors, or upper house, after the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito took the unorthodox step on Wednesday of bypassing an upper house committee vote.

The choice to circumvent the normal legislative process effectively allowed the coalition to avoid having to extend the current Diet session, set to end on Sunday, at a time when corruption allegations against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have prompted heightened scrutiny of the Abe administration.

Opposition parties have said documents shared in the education ministry imply that Abe had a hand in a decision to approve a university project in a specially deregulated economic zone so as to benefit one of his close friends.

"Is it that you don't want (the allegations) to be covered any more than this? Is that why you've embarked on the ultimate form of railroading (by bypassing the committee)?" Democratic Party leader Renho said while speaking against the amendment.

Under the new law, members of "terrorist groups or other organized crime groups" can be punished for carrying out specific actions in preparation for 277 different crimes.

The Abe administration framed the law as an essential tool for thwarting terrorist attacks, of particular importance as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and as necessary to allow Japan to ratify the 2000 U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

But opponents, including legal experts, warned it could pave the way to suppression of free speech, invasive state surveillance and arbitrary punishment of civic groups and labor unions.

Opponents called it the "conspiracy bill" in a reference to three similarly worded bills that had sought to introduce a conspiracy charge. None of those bills had made it through the Diet.

Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda insisted Thursday the law has been designed to dispel concerns brought up about those previous bills, as it "is expressly limited to organized criminal groups, the applicable crimes are listed and clearly defined and it applies only once actual preparatory actions have taken place."

The law serves as a fundamental shift in Japan's penal code, which previously applied penalties only after crimes had actually been committed.

Joseph Cannataci, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy, warned last month that the law could lead to undue restrictions of privacy and freedom of expression due to its potentially broad application. The Abe administration publically dismissed his concerns.

The ruling parties' tactic of bypassing a committee vote and taking a bill straight to a session of a whole Diet chamber is rarely used, while it is technically allowed.

The Democratic Party and three other opposition parties had agreed to pursue all possible means of impeding the bill.

They submitted Wednesday evening a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet, which was eventually rejected in a plenary session of the House of Representatives early Thursday.

A censure motion against Justice Minister Kaneda and a motion to dismiss the head of the upper house judicial affairs committee were both voted down on Wednesday.

The struggle between ruling and opposition parties over the enactment of the law, which began Wednesday, continued throughout the night, with the final upper house vote taking place in the early morning.

A less controversial amendment bill that would strengthen the penal code's punishment of sex offenses is likely to pass a vote in an upper house committee later Thursday and be enacted in a plenary session on Friday, removing the remaining justification for an extension to the current Diet session.

The committee bypass tactic has been used four times in the lower house and 18 times in the upper house, including in June 2007, during Abe's first stint in power, to revise the law on public servants to combat the entrenched practice of bureaucrats landing post-retirement jobs in sectors they used to oversee.

© KYODO

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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And the march rightward takes another step. Be afraid, citizens of Japan, be very afraid.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

While technically allowed, the move circumvents the conventional legislative process.

It's technicalities like this that should wake people up to the fact that "their" government, the people "they" elected to lead them, are leading down a road where no one wants to go.

Once the power has been given, it becomes next to impossible to take it away.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Welcome to the Stasi State.

The committee bypass tactic has been used four times in the lower house and 18 times in the upper house, including in June 2007, during Abe's first stint in power, to revise the law on public servants to combat the entrenched practice of bureaucrats landing post-retirement jobs in sectors they used to oversee.

Well, that worked a treat didn't it. There's been absolutely no amakudari since then, has there. Not a sausage, not a drop, not a jottle.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Haha, Japan's only taking a script from america. And just as I suspected in the link posted above, the first and probably real targets, whistleblowers are being given their summons. And yet the majority will continue to be docile seeing as in their minds, this truly does not affect them. Until one day it does and it's too late to change anything. George is definitely doing spins in his grave!!

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Under the new law, members of "terrorist groups or other organized crime groups" can be punished for carrying out specific actions in preparation for 277 different crimes, ranging from arson to copyright violation.

Skipping votes and forcing laws now, Japan already acting like a fascist state...definition of Terrorist for Abe's LDP is certainly anybody bringing criticism on the government.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

When commenting to people this dilemma at most I get is a komatta, or sigh. No fire inside. None.

We're going to go down very quickly with only the JCP screaming...and who's going to support them?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The fragmented incompetent stand-for-nothing opposition is as much to blame for this as Abe & co.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The use of this type of tactic shows that Japan is following the USA into the dump. Both countries are fatally fractured. I guess the future is with China.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I believe that Abe is adamantly against any unilateral changes of status quo.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Abe sure is making grandpa proud. Back to the good old days.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

That the bill passed is not surprising and doesn't signal any move towards a "fascist state". The LDP has a majority in Parliament and with such weak opposition they can pass essentially anything.

That they went ahead with the bill despite massive public opposition, minimal Parliamentary debate, and with such wide scope in the content of the bill, is very worrying however. There needs to be a proper opposition to prevent this

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Under the new law, members of "terrorist groups or other organized crime groups" can be punished for carrying out specific actions in preparation for 277 different crimes, ranging from arson to copyright violation.

Ah yes, that terrible, terrible copyright violation terrorism. The citizens will never truly be safe until this is eradicated!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The sad truth of it is, based on my many years of living here, Japanese people will just go along with it and "shouganai" it because either A. Because the government is the authority and they'll just follow the leader, regardless, or B. Think nothing can be done about it anyway, so why bother?

After the political upheaval of the 60's and 70's in Japan, dissenters to authority aren't looked upon too favorably.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

A dark day for Japan.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A stitch in time...! There will be a price to pay forward to a future generation that will have the messy job of cleaning out Abe's Augean Stables. History teaches that political situations can change in the blink of an eye: the arrogance of "Strongandstable" May was transformed overnight into "Wumble" (weak'n 'umble) Mayhem. The young Japanese, too, will put a brake on Abe & Co's shenanigans as soon as they wake up to the rigged system of exploitation that has been giving them the shaft for so long. The tipping-point may be closer than many imagine. Ganbare!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

As much it is approved by majority as Abe administration thought good timing to have majority their side, now I want the approved enacted of this law to monitor all those Abe PM and his wife political issues be revealed and not to be camouflaged or buried by this law. So many things we citizen don't know behind the scene this actual prime minister and his wife must to be cleared.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I also hope this law reveals Prime minister Abe and his wife political privacies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Does this surprise anyone?

Now you're a terrorist if you download an unauthorized page of manga on the internet.

Nice going Japan. This country has gone down the tubes in a big way in the last 6 years.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It's on!! The inquisition of political opponents of the Abe-administration has begun!!:( Hasn't the LDP learned anything from pre-WWll time? This enaction combined with pre war-imperial school materials and Hitler's biography will ultimately lead to the inevitable!!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Sad moment for Japan. I would like to see the text of the law as I would imagine it allows those in power to abuse the law as they see fit.

@Fred Wallace. I am nut sure why your post was down voted so much. Personally I agree with your post completely. The U.S. has been steadily becoming a surveillance state with this type of legislation. This accelerated after 9/11 and further accelerated under President Obama. The Trump administration will further accelerate this trend.

It appears that the crime of "pre-crime" is becoming a reality.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Massive public opposition, where was the public opposition? I didn't see any,

what I saw were people going about their usual business.

Do you think that if the type of crowds that we saw in Seoul had also gathered in Tokyo

that bill would have passed ? I don't it would.

You can't blame the opposition parties for the public not being interested in how their lives are run.

Do you want the opposition to flock the people to raise their voices.

If there was a vote today, I won't be surprised if Abe's LDP wins.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Great catch, Alfie.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't understand how this will affect people downloading comics. They have a similar law in England (people can be arrested for conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism... ) not sure about here in Scotland though. We in the UK also have more CCTV than any other country in the world... but I've never heard of anyone being arrested using this law for downloading comics from the internet.

Maybe the Japanese law will cover more crimes than terrorism.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"Brakes" against abuse of authority is nowhere in "anti-conspiracy law" of Abe government.

Moreover,The Diet deliberation revealed that "anti-conspiracy law" is useless to lone-wolf terrorism.

and Political and Economical organized crime are out of target of "anti-conspiracy law" despite The law against "terrorism and organized crime.

But "anti-conspiracy law" is useful to oppress dissent,criticism, protest and to re-establish militaristic autocracy like Prewar.

Individual freedom and rights are threatened and weakened in Japan year by year.

And Abe government expand and strengthen self-righteous political authority like Prewar.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Alfie NoakesJune 1507:58 am JST

And as if by magic....

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/14/national/politics-diplomacy/ministry-official-says-leakers-kake-gakuen-scandal-face-punishment/#.WUG-DNzraUk

Sorry, don't mix the 2 up. A whistleblower has already leaked data. It has nothing to do with conspiracy or preparation or even attempt anymore.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

other countries have conspiracy laws, why not Japan?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

'Conspiracy' law enacted through rare Diet tactic

Remember, I called it. I said this would happen.

But opponents, including legal experts, warned it could pave the way to suppression of free speech, invasive state surveillance and arbitrary punishment of civic groups and labor unions

Of course it will.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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