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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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