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During the recent Diet grilling over his alleged involvement in the Moritomo Gakuen land purchase scandal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accused his opposition party tormentors of resorting to inshō sōsa. The most accurate English translation is probably “image manipulation,” which, in the age of fake news, sounds like a term that should be in heavier circulation. Tokyo Shimbun has already flung it back at Abe in its reporting of the anti-conspiracy bill that was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

The bill will soon be debated in the Diet. It’s the fourth time that has happened. Under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the Liberal Democratic Party tried twice to get it approved, and the Democratic Party of Japan once pushed its own version. Those efforts failed because many felt the law’s interpretation of what constitutes a criminal conspiracy would allow the authorities to use it to spy on citizens and harass groups it disagrees with politically. In 2013, Japan approved the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which allows for the sharing of information on organized crime activities, and the government says it needs the anti-conspiracy law in order to ratify the convention, an assertion disputed by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

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