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Opposition weigh no-confidence vote to impede “conspiracy bill”

TOKYO — Japan’s Democratic Party and three other opposition parties agreed Thursday to consider submitting a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the current Diet session’s final days to block passage of a controversial bill that would criminalize the planning of serious crimes.

 

Meeting for the first time since September last year, the leaders of the Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party affirmed that they will aim to get the bill scrapped.

 

Debate on the bill in the House of Councillors Judicial Affairs Committee resumed Thursday, having been delayed by the Democratic Party’s filing of a censure motion against the committee chairman. The motion was voted down in an upper house plenary session on Wednesday.

 

The ruling parties hope to get the bill enacted next week during the ongoing ordinary Diet session, which will end on June 18 if not extended.

 

The bill, which would amend the law on organized crime and apply to the planning of a list of serious crimes, cleared the House of Representatives, or lower house, on May 23 with a majority vote by the ruling parties.

 

The government claims the bill is a necessary measure against terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and required for Japan to ratify the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which it signed in 2000.

 

But opponents including legal experts warn the legislation could lead to excessive state surveillance and the suppression of civil rights. They say the bill’s definition of terrorist groups and other crime organizations, to which the envisioned law’s coverage is ostensibly limited, is too vague.

Such concerns prompted three previous similarly worded bills to fail to clear the Diet.

 

The leaders also agreed on the need to further probe Abe’s potential link with the awarding of a subsidized project to a university run by his personal friend, as well as a separate deal involving the sale of public land for an elementary school project operated by a nationalist close to Abe’s wife in Osaka that dominated political headlines earlier this year.

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