March 22, 2017
The Abe Cabinet on March 21 approved the so-called “conspiracy bill” and submitted it to the Diet, immediately provoking fierce protests at various locations across the country.
In front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, a rally took place to protest against the bill. Braving the rain, 300 people raised their voices in anger, saying, “The bill aiming to punish people’s thought is unconstitutional.”
Lawyer Kaido Yuichi in the rally said that in the prewar era and during wartime, the imperial Japanese government used the notorious Public Order Maintenance Law to oppress and punish many activists opposing government policies. He went on to say that the Abe government may use the conspiracy law as a tool to crack down on people critical of government policies like the pre-war oppressive legislation was used.
The rally was joined by lawmakers from the Japanese Communist, Democratic, and Social Democratic parties and independent lawmakers from Okinawa. JCP member of the House of Representatives Fujino Yasufumi criticized the Abe government for trying to enact a conspiracy law as a way to expand the police use of wiretapping and to encourage citizens to become informants for law enforcement bodies. He stressed that the JCP will do its utmost to kill the bill.
Another protest rally was held inside the Diet building. Lawyer Iwamura Norifumi gave the keynote speech at this rally and explained that although the government insists that the proposed bill is necessary to prevent acts of terrorism, the bill does not define the word “terrorism”. Iwamura stated that if enacted, the bill will enable law enforcement authorities to arrest whoever they label a “terrorist”.
In Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, members of the Sendai Bar Association took to the streets to oppose the bill. Lawyer Abe Kiyoshi, using a microphone, said to passersby that the conspiracy bill will punish people for just talking about a crime, which goes counter to the current Criminal Code’s principle: Only the act of a crime committed is subject to punishment.
In Tokushima Prefecture, members of 15 women’s organizations in turn used a microphone and called on passersby to sign a petition opposing the conspiracy bill. The protestors attracted attention by raising placards reading, “We, including you, will be put under police surveillance.”
In Aichi’s Nagoya City and Kanagawa’s Yokohama City, local JCP committees held demonstrations to show their opposition to the bill.