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June 21 2017

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  • thedailybeast.com: Is Japan’s Top Politician Behind a Shameful Rape Cover-Up?

    “Japan’s ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been mired in scandal for several weeks amid allegations Abe personally bent the law or broke it to benefit his political cronies and friends. Even a senior member of Abe’s own Liberal Democratic Party says, ‘There is nothing this administration wouldn’t do to crush its enemies and reward its pals.’

    But new allegations have raised the possibility that the administration may have gone so far as to quash a rape investigation on behalf of a close friend of Abe: the dapper, hipster-bearded broadcast journalist Noriyuki Yamaguchi, who also penned two laudatory books on the prime minister.

    The story became national news on May 29 when a 28-year-old journalist named Shiori held a press conference at the Tokyo District Court as she sought to reopen the closed investigation into her case. In accordance with the wishes of her relatives, she has kept her family name out of the papers.

    In a country where fewer than 10 percent of rape victims ever file a report, it is rare for victims to speak out and even rarer for them to show their faces.”

  • japansubculture.com: Shiori’s Full Statement On Her Ordeal

    “Two years ago, I was raped. Going through the subsequent procedures, I came to the painful realization that the legal and social systems in Japan work against victims of sex crimes. I felt strongly about needing to change this adverse structure, and decided to go public with my case.

    I will go into details later, but in the beginning, the police would not even let me file a report on this case. They told me that it was difficult to investigate sex crimes under the current law. Also, the person in question, Mr. Yamaguchi, was the Washington Bureau Chief of Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) at the time, and a public figure. During the investigation, I received insults that were unbearable as a victim.

    However, my intention is not to criticize the entire police force. The Takanawa Police eventually became sympathetic to my situation and worked hard to investigate this case. Thanks to their efforts, investigations were completed and an arrest warrant was issued. But just as the warrant was about to be executed, the then-Chief Detective ordered investigators to call off the arrest. I question the existence of a police organization that allows such unforgiveable circumstances to transpire.

    I also question the procedures that sex crime victims are required to undergo at hospitals in order to receive treatment and examinations, as well as the insensitivity of organizations that provide information for victims. A fundamental change needs to be made to this structure.”

    “I want to ask a question to all people living in Japan. Are we really going to continue to let this happen?

    For the past two years, I often wondered why I was still alive. The act of rape killed me from the inside. Rape is murder of the soul. Only my body was left, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I had become a shell.

    After the incident, I concentrated on seeking the truth as a journalist. I had no other choice. I felt like I would be mentally crushed if I considered myself a victim. Focusing on work was a way for me to protect myself.

    I then came across a photo documentary of rape victims and their families by Mary F. Calvert in a World Press Photo exhibit. In the exhibit, there was a diary of a woman who had been raped. In this diary, there was a drawing of wrist cutting, accompanied by a message that said, ‘If only it was this easy.’ In the end, this woman killed herself.

    I understand this woman’s pain. She doesn’t exist in this world anymore, but I witnessed those photos and received her message. And this is what I thought: ‘I have to reveal the horror of rape and the enormous impact it has on the victim’s life.’

    Becoming a rape victim myself made me realized just how small our voices are, and how difficult it is to have our voices heard in society. At the same time, I recognized the need to face this issue as a journalist. If I hadn’t been a journalist, I may have given up. I know there are countless women who have gone through the same experience, leaving them hurt and crushed. I know that, both in the past and still today, many of these women have given up.”

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June 17 2017

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Al Jazeera: Protests in Japan as anti-conspiracy bill passed

“Despite resistance from the opposition bloc, the bill was approved after more than 17 hours of debate. The bill writes 277 new crimes into law.”

But the opposition says many are petty crimes, targeting regular citizens, such as copyright violations or even stealing lumber from forests.”

“The government says the bill is part of the international joint effort against crime ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.

After the parliamentary vote on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters the law seeks to protect Japanese citizens and is part of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, ‘to prevent terrorism before it happens’.

But critics say it's an abuse of power and an unconstitutional attack on freedom of expression.

‘This legislation is the perfect example of how the government is using counterterrorism as an excuse for mass-surveilance of ordinary citizens and activists, trying to re-militarise the country and crackdown on dissidents,’ Tokyo resident, Lisa Torio, told Al Jazeera.”

“In an interview with Kyodo News earlier this month, US whistleblower Edward Snowden called the bill ‘the beginning of a new wave of mass-surveillance in Japan’.

‘This is a normalisation of a surveillance culture, that has not previously existed in Japan in public’, he said.”

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June 16 2017

early warning signs of fascism: “obsession with crime & punishment” and “rampant cronyism & corruption” - these are what’s happening now in Japan.

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June 15 2017

“ABE FIRST is LDP-Komei politics” - in front of the Diet building in Tokyo, Jun. 15 2017.

PM Abe killed not only article 9 of Japan’s Constitution, but article 21 (freedom of expression and privacy) and 31 (due process of law in the criminal justice) with the anti-conspiracy legislation. We must purge this far-right politician from government.

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Japan rams through contentious anti-conspiracy bill - France 24

“The legislation would criminalise plotting and preparing to commit 277 ‘serious crimes’ that critics such as the Japan Federation of Bar Associations note include acts with no obvious connection to terrorism or organised crime, such as sit-ins to protest construction of apartment buildings or copying music.

Opponents see the legislation as part of a broader agenda by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to increase state powers and fear ordinary citizens could be targeted, despite government assurances to the contrary.

Combined with a widening of legal wiretapping and the reluctance of courts to limit police surveillance powers, the changes could deter grassroots opposition to government policies, critics say.

To try to speed up passage of the law, the ruling bloc took the rare, contentious step of skipping a vote in an upper house committee and moving directly to a vote in the full upper house.

The U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, wrote to Abe last month asking him to address the risk that the changes could ‘lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression’.

In an email to Reuters, Cannataci said the Japanese government had used ‘the psychology of fear’ to push through ‘defective legislation’.

‘Japan needs to improve its safeguards for privacy, now even more so that this supsicious piece of legislation has been put on the statute books,’ he said in the email.

Critics say gathering information on possible plots would require expanded police surveillance, and the legislation has been compared to Japan’s ‘thought police’, who before and during World War Two had broad powers to investigate political groups seen as a threat to public order.”

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Japan accused of stifling freedom with new terror law - CNN.com

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“Under the new laws, it will make it illegal to plan to commit 277 criminal actions, from arson to copyright infringement.

Koichi Nakano, political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University, told CNN the new legislation ‘fundamentally’ changed Japan's legal system. ‘Unless a crime in committed in Japan, you don't get punished ... now if they think you are thinking of preparing to commit a crime, even before you're arrested, you'll be put under surveillance,’ he said.

‘It leads to a substantial expansion of police power to investigate people and put them under surveillance.’

Nakano compared the new legislation to the Peace Prevention Law enacted in Japan in 1925, which led to the country's infamous Thought Police.

‘At that time, they reassured people that ordinary people won't be affected. But the law was abused, it persecuted communists, and then religious leaders, leaders and ordinary people,’ he said.”

“Jeff Kingston, Asian Studies director at Japan's Temple University, told CNN Abe was using fear to crack down on Japanese society.

‘The government has been trying to use extensive fear mongering as a way to justify curbing civil liberties and putting democracy in handcuffs,’ he said.

‘They are giving the police extensive powers and criminalizing things that ought not to be a crime in a democracy.’

The laws have provoked protests since December, growing in intensity over recent weeks, after the extent of Abe's new laws became public knowledge.”

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BBC News: Japan passes controversial anti-terror conspiracy law

What changes with the new law?

The law, which criminalises the plotting and committing of 277 acts, amends an existing law against organised crime syndicates.

It bans the procurement of funds or supplies and the surveying of a location in preparation of any of these offences.

An entire group - defined as two or more people - can be charged if at least one member is found to have been plotting the crime.

It also bans the expansion or maintenance of illicit interests of organised crime groups.

Japan has signed a UN convention against transnational organised crime, but not yet ratified it. The government said the new law was needed for ratification to go ahead.

Mr Abe told reporters the law would allow Japan to ‘firmly cooperate with international society to prevent terrorism’.

What kind of crimes are on the list?

The ruling bloc has been attempting to push through the legislation for months. An earlier draft had listed 676 crimes, but it was pared down to 277.

The law bans the plotting of serious crimes such as terrorism but also lesser offences such as;

  • Copying music
  • Conducting sit-ins to protest against the construction of apartment buildings
  • Using forged stamps
  • Competing in a motor boat race without a licence
  • Mushroom picking in conservation forests
  • Avoiding paying consumption tax

Why are critics objecting?

Though the government has promised that the law will not be used unfairly, critics remain unconvinced.

They say the law is too broadly worded and gives the authorities sweeping powers.

They have also questioned the inclusion of certain acts and asked how they could be linked to terrorism and organised crime.

The government argues some could be used in association with criminal operations - for example, a gang or terror cell could fund its operations from the sale of illegally picked mushrooms.

But an editorial by newspaper The Mainichi said this argument was ‘unconvincing’, as many other possible illegal sources of revenue such as marine poaching are not included on the list.

‘While the sale of such seafood may also bring profits, that is not subject to the anti-conspiracy bill. What sets seafood apart from blessings from the mountains?’ it said.

Critics have also taken issue with the way the bill was pushed through, as the ruling bloc took the unusual step of bypassing certain formalities to ensure it would be speedily passed.

They have accused the government of steamrolling the opposition, and questioned whether this was aimed at protecting Mr Abe from being grilled on a brewing political scandal.

An opposition party recently accused the prime minister of influencing a government decision to fund and approve a veterinary school at a university owned by Mr Abe's friend.

Mr Abe has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.”

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June 12 2017

Shibuya, Tokyo.

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May 29 2017

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did-you-kno:

The world’s oldest hotel is in Japan.  Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan hotel in Yamanashi has been operating since 705 CE and has been run by the same family for 52 generations. Source Source 2

May 27 2017

May 25 2017

“On Tuesday, Japan's House of Representatives, approved the so-called ‘conspiracy bill,’ which lists 277 new types of offenses which lawmakers say threaten Japanese national security.

Tokyo argues the legislation needs to be adopted ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 to fight terrorism and organized crime. The Japanese government also says that the bill is necessary to ratify United Nations' Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Opponents of the new measures argue that the government will now be able to prosecute those who have nothing to do with terrorism or serious crime enterprises. Critics further fear the legislation could equate such offenses as sit-in protests and violations of copyrights to ‘serious crimes.’

The proposed bill needs to be ratified by the upper house, the House of Councillors, before it becomes a law. It is expected to be enacted as the ruling coalition also has a majority in the upper house.

Recalling the Japanese police state policies of the 1930-1940’s, thousands of Japanese took to the streets to decry the erosion of their civil liberties and to protest increased police powers.

Protesters carried placards condemning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. They also chanted slogans venting their opposition to several other issues, including Japan's nuclear power policies, the American presence in Okinawa and an increase in the hourly wage.”

Thousands protest Japan’s controversial ‘anti-conspiracy bill’ (PHOTOS, VIDEO) (RT News, May 25 2017)

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May 21 2017

Japan cabinet approves anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns

“ [Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide] Suga said the legislation would apply only to groups preparing to commit terrorist acts and other organised crime groups and would not target the ‘legitimate activities’ of civil groups or labour unions.

Opponents, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, have doubts. They view the proposed change as part of Abe's agenda to tighten control at the expense of individual rights, chilling grassroots opposition to government policies such as the construction of a U.S. military base on Okinawa island.

‘It is very clear that the Japanese public security sector – police and prosecutors – employ an extremely expansive interpretation of any aspect of criminal law so ... regardless of the limited list of potential crimes, they will interpret it in an extremely elastic way,’ said Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University in Tokyo.

The lawyers' association has said Japanese law already prohibits preparations to commit certain serious crimes such as murder, arson and counterfeiting or plotting an insurgency or the use of explosives, so additional legislation is unnecessary.”

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Tokyo, Japan - protest against the passage of the anti-conspiracy bill (共謀罪法案) at the lower house of the Diet, May 19 2017. This video features speeches by the leaders of major opposition parties.

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Tokyo, Japan - protest rally against a bill that would criminalize “prepatation for terrorist act”, May 16 2017.

According to the current criminal code of Japan, a person cannot, in principle, be charged for criminal offense unless the person is alleged to have ACTUALLY performed a criminal act under the code. The proposed bill, however, would virtually change this principle: even a consultation on some criminal act between/among persons - conspiracy - could be held accountable before the court of law. The number of crimes fallen under the bill is over 200. The Japanese government says this is a necesseary measure to prevent terrorism for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Copyright violation, for example, is also within the scope of the bill. If online surveillance broadened, this would be an effective tool to suppress anti-government campaign on the web - just clicking on “retweet” or “like” button on Twitter might lead to conviction.

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May 20 2017

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April 24 2017

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