Japan passes ‘brutal’ counter-terror law despite fears over civil liberties

Critics including UN expert fear legislation passed by Abe government could target ordinary citizens and deter grassroots opposition to government policies

Protesters shout slogans as they protest against an anti-conspiracy bill outside parliament building in Tokyo.
Protesters shout slogans as they protest against an anti-conspiracy bill outside parliament building in Tokyo. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Japan has passed a controversial law targeting conspiracies to commit terrorism and other serious crimes, despite a warning by the UN that it could be used to crack down on civil liberties.

The ruling Liberal Democratic party and its junior coalition pushed the bill through the upper house of Japan’s parliament as thousands of people protested outside.

The vote on the bill, which has been delayed three times amid widespread public opposition, came after a UN expert called the legislation “defective”, eliciting an angry response from Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

Officials in Tokyo insist the law is needed to ratify a 2000 UN treaty targeting global organised crime, and to improve Japan’s anti-terrorism measures as it prepares to host the rugby world cup in 2019 and the Olympics the following year.

“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 international society to prevent terrorism,” Abe told reporters. “That’s why the law was enacted.”

The legislation would criminalise plotting and preparing to commit 277 “serious crimes”.

But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and other critics point out that offences covered by the law include those with no obvious connection to terrorism or organised crime, such as sit-ins to protest construction of apartment buildings or copying music.

Opponents see the legislation as part of Abe’s broader mission to increase state powers, and fear ordinary citizens could be targeted, despite government assurances to the contrary.

Renho Murata, leader of the opposition Democratic party, said Abe’s administration had pushed through a “brutal” law that would infringe on freedom of thought.

Critics fear that the law, combined with a widening of legal wiretapping and the reluctance of courts to limit police surveillance powers, could deter grassroots opposition to government policies.

To try to speed up passage of the law, the ruling bloc took the rare, contentious step of skipping a vote in an upper house committee and moving directly to a vote in the full upper house.

Joseph Cannataci, the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy, wrote to Abe last month asking him to address the risk that the changes could “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression”.

Abe described Cannataci’s assessment as “extremely unbalanced” and said his conduct was “hardly that of an objective expert”.

Cannataci said on Thursday that the Japanese government had used “the psychology of fear” to push through “defective legislation”.

He added: “Japan needs to improve its safeguards for privacy, now even more so that this suspicious piece of legislation has been put on the statute books.”

Critics say gathering information on possible plots would require expanded police surveillance, and the legislation has been compared to Japan’s “thought police”, who before and during the second world war had broad powers to investigate political groups seen as a threat to public order.

A Kyodo news agency survey last month showed voters are split over the bill, with support at 39.9% and opposition at 41.4%.

An estimated 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. “Our freedom of expression will be threatened.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in International Terrorism, Japan and tagged by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

Trả lời

Mời bạn điền thông tin vào ô dưới đây hoặc kích vào một biểu tượng để đăng nhập:

WordPress.com Logo

Bạn đang bình luận bằng tài khoản WordPress.com Đăng xuất / Thay đổi )

Twitter picture

Bạn đang bình luận bằng tài khoản Twitter Đăng xuất / Thay đổi )

Facebook photo

Bạn đang bình luận bằng tài khoản Facebook Đăng xuất / Thay đổi )

Google+ photo

Bạn đang bình luận bằng tài khoản Google+ Đăng xuất / Thay đổi )

Connecting to %s