Justice Minister Seiken Sugiura on Friday suggested the government might be ready to resubmit the human-rights protection bill next year with revisions, including to the contentious media restrictions clause.

“At present the government is not in a position to refile the (human-rights protection) bill with the Diet,” without revisions, Sugiura told reporters.

Sugiura said some legislation is necessary to allow the government to take effective measures against human rights violations and that his ministry did not want the bill to be left untouched.

The bill was presented to the Diet in March 2002 and killed in fall 2003, and discussion on it has been stalled ever since because of division within the Liberal Democratic Party on revising it.

The bill proposed setting up a human rights committee as an external body of the Justice Ministry. The committee would help victims of such human rights violations as discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or physical disability, abuse at welfare facilities and schools, and privacy violations or excessive coverage by the media.

But media organizations and citizens groups have opposed the idea, questioning the committee’s independence and saying it could infringe on freedom of expression.

Sugiura said the Justice Ministry plans to set up a consultative body with the media to discuss how to handle the clause on media restrictions.

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