The enactment of the revised anti-organized crime law was a triumphant moment for Abe, who has spent the bulk of this ordinary Diet session touting the bill as a much-needed boost to Japan's counterterrorism capability as the nation gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Japanese Upper House of Parliament approved an amendment to the organised crime law which will penalise for the first time criminal conspiracy, which is defined as an organisation or group of persons planning to commit a crime (out of a total of 277 typified), or to prepare for it, reports Efe news.
"They are giving the police extensive powers and criminalizing things that ought not to be a crime in a democracy".
But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and other critics point out that offences covered by the law include those with no obvious connection to terrorism or organised crime, such as sit-ins to protest construction of apartment buildings or copying music.
A no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet was voted down on Thursday morning.
Abe has been under investigation since documents leaked to local media show his advisers pushing Tokyo's education ministry to subsidize a university program run by Kotaro Kake, a longtime friend.
Japan's militarist past, when the police and authorities had enormous powers to probe political groups and ideas considered harmful to public order, have made conspiracy legislation especially contentious.
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Four opposition parties criticized the ruling parties for using this procedure that ended discussions at the Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee.
"If the chairman allowed such a move, it would be tantamount to the Upper House committing suicide", Yoshiki Yamashita, a senior Upper House member of the Japanese Communist Party, told reporters.
Opposition Democratic Party leader Renho, who goes by one name, in a statement blasted the ruling party tactics and termed the law "brutal" legislation that violated freedom of thought.
But this principle, opposition lawmakers said Wednesday, should not apply to the conspiracy bill, which has so far been deliberated in the Upper House for less than 20 hours and is being discussed in a committee chaired by a Komeito lawmaker.
"The ruling coalition is in a situation where it can easily call a vote on the bill at the committee".
"Peaceful demonstrations could be prohibited for being viewed as terrorism", with the bill, said Miyuki Masuyama, a 54-year-old woman from Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, who joined the rally outside the Diet, adding, "Our freedom of expression will be threatened".
"The party has to have a debate on what to prioritise, be it social policy, economic policy or the constitution". It also explained that enacting the law would be indispensable to conclude the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
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