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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 June 27 - July 3  > Ebina Cty relaxes regulations on demonstrations
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2018 June 27 - July 3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Ebina Cty relaxes regulations on demonstrations

June 28, 2018

The Ebina City Assembly in Kanagawa Prefecture recently passed a bill to amend an ordinance in order to relax regulations on demonstrations on an open passageway near Ebina Station. This is the fruit of local citizens’ efforts to defend the freedom of expression.

The revision of the ordinance came after the city government in March 2017 lost a court battle concerning a “mannequin flash mob”—in which a number of people froze for a period of time—on the passageway. The former ordinance banned rallies, demonstrations, or sit-ins on the public promenade.

Under the new ordinance, citizens can hold a rally or similar actions on the free passageway after gaining necessary approval. The revised rules no longer require people to obtain official permission to collect signatures or deliver street speeches there with some exceptions.

Plaintiffs of the court case and a citizens’ group working for a free promenade in Ebina Station welcomed the amendment.

Still, the new ordinance contains controversial stipulations. For example, the city government explains that an application for a demonstration will be rejected if the event has a possibility of causing fears and anxieties among the general public. There remains concern that the threat of “possibility” may arbitrarily be used to approve or deny.

Japanese Communist Party member of the city assembly Sasaki Hiroshi said in an assembly meeting earlier this month that it was sensible for the city to accept the court ruling and make necessary revisions. However, at the same time, new rules in the revised ordinance are still unreasonably strict, according to Sasaki. He fears that the new ordinance could ultimately limit the freedom of expression and assembly. He underscored the need to keep a watchful eye on how the ordinance will be implemented.

Past related articles:
> JCP: Revision of Tokyo ordinance will lead to human rights violations [March 20, 2018]
> Sign boards opposing freedom of expression removed in Kanagawa [February 24, 2018]
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