Japan cabinet approves anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns

Japan cabinet approves anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns
  1. Japan cabinet approves anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns
    Japan's cabinet on Tuesday approved legislation that would penalise criminal conspiracies, a move critics say threatens civil liberties, but officials say is needed to prevent terrorist targeting events like the 2020 Tokyo…

TOKYO: Japan's cabinet on Tuesday approved legislation that would penalise criminal conspiracies, a move critics say threatens civil liberties, but officials say is needed to prevent terrorist targeting events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Proponents say the steps are vital in a security climate where terrorism risks have grown and in order to ratify a U.N. Treaty aimed at battling international organised crime.

"Considering the current situation regarding terrorism and looking ahead to the Olympics and Paraolympics three years hence, it is necessary to fully prepare to prevent organised crimes including terrorism," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Japanese governments have tried to pass similar legislation three times since 2000, when the United Nations adopted a Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, but the bill stands a better chance of success this time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition has a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and public worries about terrorism ahead of the Olympics have grown after deadly attacks overseas, although an opinion poll released by Kyodo news agency on March 12 showed 45.5 percent were opposed to the bill while 33 percent favoured it.

Suga said the legislation would apply only to groups preparing to commit terrorist acts and other organised crime groups and would not target the "legitimate activities" of civil groups or labour unions.

Opponents, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, have doubts. They view the proposed change as part of Abe's agenda to tighten control at the expense of individual rights, chilling grassroots opposition to government…

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