Japan Passes Controversial Terror Law

Lawmakers in Japan have passed a controversial anti-terror law that allows the authorities to target terror conspiracies.

Despite vocal opposition to the bill, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed the legislation through the upper house on Thursday.

The Japanese government argues that the law is needed to comply with an agreement it signed with the UN and to improve security for the 2020 Olympics.

“The law to punish terrorism preparation has just (been) enacted,” the PM said Thursday. “We would like to implement the law appropriately and effectively in order to protect the lives and the assets of the Japanese people.”

The bill has been staunchly opposed by the Japanese Bar Association, which argues that the legislation would likely “infringe civil liberties.”

Under the new law, protestors could be imprisoned for demonstrating at a building site.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy also criticized the legislation and the wide range of crimes individuals could be arrested for planning.

The bill makes it illegal to plan and commit 227 actions, which range from arson to copyright infringement, according to a report from CNN. The legislation prohibits the individuals and groups from procuring supplies or funds in preparation of committing crimes.

An entire group can be charged if at least one member is found to be plotting a crime.

Other crimes on the list include: using forged stamps, sit-ins to protest construction of apartment buildings, not paying consumption tax, competing in motor boat races without a license and picking mushrooms in conservation forests.

The law has sparked protests, including one on Wednesday just outside the National Diet. Thousands participated in the demonstration.

Critics of the law say the legislation’s wording is too broadly worded and would give authorities sweeping powers.

“The enactment of the law allowed a breeding ground for problems in the lives of citizens. Prime Minister Abe and the coalition partners owe a very significant responsibility (for) it,” said Renho, Opposition Democratic Party leader.