National

Ruling bloc pushes Lower House to pass 'conspiracy' bill

Kyodo

The ruling bloc is aiming to get through the Lower House a contentious bill that would punish the planning of crimes, lawmakers said Tuesday, despite lingering criticism that the legislation could threaten civil rights.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, are eager to push the bill through the House of Representatives next week so it can be sent to the Upper House and enacted into law during the ongoing Diet session set to end June 18.

Abe said during a Diet session earlier in the day that enactment of the law is necessary to protect the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from terrorism as “many and unspecified people” will enter Japan for the sports event.

Some ruling bloc members, meanwhile, have called for the extension of the current Diet session, as they are also trying to pass other key bills, such as one to toughen penalties for sexual offenses.

On Tuesday, a censure motion against the head of the Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee, submitted by opposition lawmakers, was voted down at its plenary session. The motion had slammed committee Chairman Junji Suzuki for the way he has run deliberations over the bill.

Debate on the bill is expected to resume on Friday.

The government has said the bill revamps three previous “conspiracy bills” that failed to pass the Diet amid concerns they could lead to human rights abuses, including the arbitrary persecution of civic groups.

While Abe has emphasized that the punishments his administration would introduce will not be applicable to “ordinary citizens,” the main opposition force, the Democratic Party, has argued they could be subjected to punishment under the proposed law.

The government has also said passing the updated version of the bill is a prerequisite to ratify the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which Japan signed in 2000. The opposition has said it is “unnecessary” to join the treaty.