Japan's controversial "conspiracy" law

Japanese politicians is debating a new law that aims to stop organized crime, according to a United Nation convention that was passed in 2000. However, as a recent Yomiuri Shimbun editorial notes, labor unions and civil groups could also become a target of the new bill.

Reiji Yoshida at The Japan Times has done us all a favour by explaining the controversial conspiracy bill aimed at making "conspiracy" a crime. The bill will likely take its first step toward law as the ruling coalition is ready to ask a House of Representatives panel to approve the legislation over strong objections from the opposition parties:

The government-sponsored bill would allow authorities to crack down on members of organizations who agree to commit a crime, even if they don't actually perpetrate one.

Lawyers and citizen groups are protesting the legislation because they fear it will end up giving the government excessive control over the public.

Over 100 Japanese NGO have protested against the bill:

...the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and many citizen groups have asserted that authorities will likely abuse their power by stretching the bill's interpretation to include lesser crimes committed by the general public. This is because the definition of conspiracy and the targeted groups as written in the bill has been left vague.

The legislation would apply to more than 615 offenses, including murder and theft, but critics say many on the list have little to do with organized crime, including violations of the election and political funds control laws.

How the state recognizes a conspiracy "agreement" is another issue. In October, then Justice Minister Chieko Noono told the Lower House that "even winking" could be a signal of criminal conspiracy. This fueled public fears of state abuse of authority.

Update: Amnesty Japan has more details about the April 19 appeal signed by many NGOs (in Japanese). JCA-Net has a blog with updates about the lobbying against the bill.


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