Monday, 18 June, 2018

Japan approves contentious bill against planning crimes

Japan ruling bloc pushes through anti-conspiracy bill despite privacy concerns Japan approves contentious bill against planning crimes
Francis Olson | 15 June, 2017, 23:22

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 a clear win for Abe, who's backed the bill for a long time, but it's split the public, sparking opposition protests and a warning from a United Nations expert who called it "defective".

The bill writes 277 new crimes into law. One of the contentious clauses seeks to punish a group of conspirators where only one person tried to raise money or survey the site of a future crime.

The ruling coalition pushed the conspiracy legislation through the upper house Thursday, bypassing committee approval that normally precedes a vote by the full house.

The government argues that the legislation is necessary to prevent terrorism ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "That's why the law was enacted", he said.

While the government has promised that the law will not be used unfairly, critics still remain unconvinced.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the law and the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joseph Cannataci, who had warned in a letter to Abe in May that this could affect the right to privacy as well as other freedoms.

"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 global society to prevent terrorism", Abe told reporters.

Buffalo Sabres hire Phil Housley as coach
Housley was hired on Thursday and takes over for Dan Bylsma , who was sacked along with general manager Tim Murray in April. He was drafted sixth overall by the Sabres in 1982 and spent the first eight of his 21 seasons as a player in Buffalo.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe dismissed concerns that the law on organised crime will give the police too much power and lead to more state snooping.

Prime Minister Abe; however, described Cannataci's assessment as "extremely unbalanced" and said his conduct was "hardly that of an objective expert".

"Japan needs to improve its safeguards for privacy, now even more so that this supsicious piece of legislation has been put on the statute books", he said in the email.

But critics say it weakens civil liberties and could be abused to monitor and target innocent citizens.

In an interview with Kyodo News earlier this month, USA whistleblower Edward Snowden called the bill "the beginning of a new wave of mass-surveillance in Japan".

With an estimated amount of 5,000 people demonstrated in front of the parliament building, denouncing the new law as "autocratic" and vowing to prevent Japan from turning into a "surveillance society".

"Peaceful demonstrations could be prohibited for being viewed as terrorism", Miyuki Masuyama, a 54-year-old woman, told Kyodo news. He added that he had identified "significant worrying signals" in Japan's record on freedom of expression, the Guardian reported.

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