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Zenroren protests Cabinet approval of conspiracy bill that could pave the way for war


Statement by
Deputy Secretary General
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
March 21, 2017

The Cabinet of Prime Minister ABE Shinzo on March 21 approved a bill to establish a “conspiracy crime” so authorities can punish people for discussing a plan to commit a crime even before it is carried out. The “conspiracy crime” was set forth in a bill three times in the past but was rejected because it would take away people’s freedom of thought, the freedom of an individual to hold thought or freedom of expression, in violation of the Constitution. The Cabinet, which is duty-bound to comply with the Constitution, has no right to approve a bill that would undermine the basic law. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) strongly protests the decision. The government-drafted bill to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds provides that if more than one of the members of an organized crime plan or discuss (conspire) preparing a certain crime and if one of them was found to be involved in its preparations, all those who participated in the conspiracy would be punished for preparing a terror or other activity. Although the government says the law would target only organized crime groups, but the category is not given a clear definition. Police investigation could be extended to target ordinary citizens.

Although the government says only specified crimes will be targeted, the bill includes 277 crimes that are punishable under the law. There is a danger that wiretapping and secret filming will be carried out by investigators. That concern was turned into a reality last year, when authorities carried out secret filming at a trade union office in Oita Prefecture during the House of Councilors election.

The Abe Cabinet replaced the bill’s original wording of “conspiracy crime” with “crime of preparing terror and other acts.” It insists that the measure is essential for hosting the Olympic Games. But the fact of the matter is that Japan is a party to 13 international treaties relating to anti-terrorism measures. It has domestic laws in place, and there is no need to write any new laws in this regard. The government draft initially did not include the term “terrorism” even though officials emphasized that the bill would provide anti-terrorism measures. When it was pointed out that this term was missing, the government hurriedly added it in the text. How irresponsible it is!

The proposal for the anti-conspiracy crime law has been discussed in the Diet. In the discussion, it has been pointed out that the proposed legislation has dangerous elements and ambiguity, making the Justice Minister unable to answer questions. What’s more, the minister went so far as to distribute a document apparently intended to thwart parliamentary debate. Such an irresponsible cabinet has no right to submit an anti-conspiracy crime bill.

The establishment of a “conspiracy crime” provision is designed to label trade unions and citizens’ movement groups as “organized crime gangs” in order to discourage people from participating in the citizens’ movement and to create a society that allows for little freedom of expression and monitors people, a society of surveillance and betrayal. We know that in pre-war Japan, trade union activists and even people of faith were arrested for violating the Public Order Maintenance Law. Suppression of freedom of speech paved the way for Japan’s war. We must not allow the same mistakes to be repeated.

The Organizing Committee against the Anti-Conspiracy Crime Bill and the Organizing Committee for All-out Actions are promoting the signature campaign against the establishment of conspiracy crime provision. Zenroren will do its utmost with these campaigns. We will make greater efforts to let wider sections of the people know what the anti-conspiracy bill is about and how dangerous it is. We are determined to get the unconstitutional anti-conspiracy crime bill killed for the fourth time by an overwhelming nationwide movement.

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