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No-confidence vote falters, paving way for conspiracy bill to be rammed through Lower House

by

Staff Writer

The ruling bloc and the opposition party Nippon Ishin no Kai jointly voted down a no-confidence motion against Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda in the Lower House on Thursday, clearing the way for the controversial crime bill widely known as the conspiracy bill to go to the Upper House next week.

Though deliberations in the Lower House had been stalled by the opposition camp’s no-confidence motion, the ruling coalition is now ready to ram the bill through the Lower House committee as early as Friday and through the entire chamber on Tuesday.

The bill would then be immediately sent to the Upper House.

The ruling coalition now aims to enact the bill by June 18, when the ordinary Diet session will close.

If the back-and-forth with the opposition continues and deliberations in the Upper House are prolonged, however, the ruling coalition might extend the Diet session.

“If we cannot start deliberation in the Upper House by May 24, the schedule would be very tight” and the ruling bloc would have no choice but to extend the session, Komeito executive Yoshio Urushibara was quoted as saying by Kyodo News on Thursday.

The bill has drawn strong criticism because it is designed to incarcerate people who only plan, rather than commit, certain crimes.

Opposition lawmakers have argued that such a powerful, wide-ranging law could be abused by investigative authorities to indiscriminately crack down on ordinary citizens, including political protesters and members of interest groups.

Kaneda is the minister in charge of the bill and has long been criticized for being unable to explain its details in Diet sessions.

“Justice Minister Kaneda is not qualified for the position. A vast majority of the nation shares the same feeling,” said Kazunori Yamai, the Diet affairs chief of the Democratic Party, the largest opposition force, on Thursday.

The no-confidence motion was jointly submitted by the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party.

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito reportedly plan to pass the bill through the Justice Committee of the Lower House on Friday and send it to the Upper House on Tuesday.

Also Thursday, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told party executives that the legislation is necessary to crack down terrorists and prepare for major international events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Yamaguchi added that other developed countries have similar laws.

“I think a considerable, sufficient amount of deliberations have already been held,” Yamaguchi said. “I’d like (lawmakers) to send the bill from the Lower House to the Upper House.”