May 29, 2017
Tokyo- The House of Councillors, the upper chamber of Japan's parliament, started discussions on a bill to criminalize planning and preparation to commit acts of terrorism and other serious offenses at a plenary meeting on Monday.
The government and ruling camp hope to get the bill to amend the law for penalizing organized crimes enacted during the current regular parliamentary session, regarding the legislation as crucial for taking counter terrorism measures ahead of and during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
To ensure the bill's enactment, they are considering an extension of the parliamentary session, currently set to end on June 18, informed sources said.
For its part, the opposition camp aims to have the bill scrapped, claiming that the amendment may lead to a society of surveillance.
At the Upper House plenary meeting, Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda explained the purposes of the anticonspiracy bill.
Toshiharu Furukawa, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the significance of having the bill enacted for concluding the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Yuichi Mayama of the main opposition Democratic Party, Masayoshi Hamada of Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, Sohei Nihi of the Japanese Communist Party and Toru Azuma of Nippon Ishin no Kai will also ask questions about the bill.
The LDP and the DP have agreed to begin substantive discussions on the bill on Tuesday at the Upper House Committee on Judicial Affairs.
With only three weeks left for deliberation until the currently set end of the parliamentary session, the government and ruling camp need to make a decision on whether to extend the session.
The opposition camp is expected to go on the offensive over allegations concerning a new university faculty plan by a school operator headed by a friend of Abe. The industry ministry proposed Monday a vision for Japan's industrial structure in the 2030s, including regulatory reforms in four designated strategic areas to keep pace with the development of cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence.
In its proposals, presented at a meeting of the Industrial Structure Council, an advisory panel to the industry minister, the strategic areas include "transportation" and "health," eyeing services that makes use of autonomous driving and responses to the aging of society in the future.
The ministry hopes the proposals will be included in the economic growth strategy the Japanese government will compile in June.
"Japan will be left out globally if we don't take on reforms squarely in a bold and speedy manner," industry minister Hiroshige Seko told the meeting.
Under the plan, the ministry presented a goal of halving the number of traffic accidents resulting from driver errors by the 2030s, including by utilizing autonomous driving technologies. It called for a review of related rules such as the road traffic law and clarifying responsibilities for accidents in vehicle insurance programs. (Jiji Press)
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