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Yoshiko Sakurai

【#437】Democratic Party’s Unreasonable Opposition to Anti-Terror Bill

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2017.05.09 (Tue)

May 8, 2017

     When the House of Representatives Judicial Affairs Committee launched deliberation on a bill to create the charge of terror preparations, the Democratic Party boycotted the deliberation. Shiori Yamao, a former chairwoman of the largest opposition party’s Policy Research Committee, condemned the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for “attempting to pass a poorly designed conspiracy charge bill as soon as possible with an iron fist.”
     The Democratic Party’s assertion against the bill is unreasonable. Comparison between the party’s argument on a conspiracy charge bill 11 years ago and that on the current anti-terror bill indicates that its opposition is not reasonable or understandable. It amounts opposition for the sake of opposition.

Amendment proposal 11 years ago have been accepted
     Eleven years ago, the ruling LDP and Komeito party proposed the conspiracy charge bill. As a witness at the committee then, I gave my opinion that while the charge of conspiracy would have to be created, the bill itself should be amended. My concern was that the conspiracy charge bill could allow authorities to control citizens’ mind or excessively extend the charge. As a journalist, I asserted that visible conditions should be imposed to prevent authorities from violating freedom of speech, thought or creed.
     At that time, my opinion was close to that of the Democratic Party (then called the Democratic Party of Japan). The DPJ then presented amendments proposing that the number of crimes subject to the bill be reduced from 619 to 306, that the crackdown target should be changed from “groups” to “organized crime groups,” and that authorities be required to find preparations for committing crime as well as agreement to do so before charging any people with conspiracy. I gave a high rating to the proposed amendments and urged the ruling LDP to fully accept the DPJ proposal.
     The current anti-terror bill almost fully accepts the DPJ proposal presented 11 years ago. Given that conditions for withdrawing my reservations on the conspiracy charge bill 11 years ago have been met, I now assert that the bill for creating the charge of terror preparations should be enacted as early as possible.

Irresponsible political party agitating public opinion
     Meanwhile, the Democratic Party still cites the prewar Maintenance of Public Order Law and agitates public opinion by making an extreme argument that Japan should not repeat the period when ordinary citizens were put under surveillance and seized one after another. Such argument misses the whole point and is irresponsible.
     The Democratic Party also insists that the charge of terror preparations do not have to be created as the current law can fully crack down on terrorism. That’s not true. Suppose that terrorists attempt to put poison into a water reservoir to kill massive people and trigger social unrest. Under the current law, authorities cannot take law enforcement measures against terrorists even they transport poison close to the water reservoir. They can be arrested only when they put poison into the water reservoir. The bill to create the charge of terror preparations is designed to cover the defect of the current law.
     The Democratic Party should make more persistent arguments and act as a responsible political party. With the Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled to come in three years, we should develop laws to protect citizens and national interests.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.