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The Japan Congress of Journalists said Thursday it will award its grand prize this year to Tokyo Shimbun for its investigative report on crimes of conspiracy.

The daily’s special-report section took up legislative moves to criminalize the act of conspiracy in August 2004 for the first time, featuring the subject 19 times this year.

The JCJ praised Tokyo Shimbun for “promptly responding to danger perceived in legislation.”

Tokyo Shimbun said: “Starting with the explanation about what the crime of conspiracy is, we comprehensively covered the subject. We believe that we gained understanding from readers.”

In June, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its ally, New Komeito, gave up trying to enact a law on conspiracy.

The bill would have made it a criminal offense to take part in plotting a crime even if it is never carried out.

The conspiracy bill was initially submitted to the Diet in 2003 as the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which Japan signed in December 2000, requires signatory nations to establish conspiracy charges.

But the bill was scrapped twice and has been carried over to subsequent Diet sessions for further deliberation due to resistance from opposition parties and civic organizations that claim punishing mere discussion would mean suppression of freedom of thought and expression.

JCJ grand prizes are given annually for outstanding journalistic achievements.

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