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Japan cabinet OK's anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns

Japan cabinet OK's anti-conspiracy bill amid civil rights concerns

Tokyo, March 21 (Reuters) Japan's cabinet today approved legislation that would penalise criminal conspiracies, a move critics say threatens civil liberties, but officials say is needed to prevent terrorist targeting events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Proponents say the steps are vital in a security climate where terrorism risks have grown and in order to ratify a UN Treaty aimed at battling international organised crime. "Considering the current situation regarding terrorism and looking ahead to the Olympics and Paraolympics three years hence, it is necessary to fully prepare to prevent organised crimes including terrorism," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. Japanese governments have tried to pass similar legislation three times since 2000, when the United Nations adopted a Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, but the bill stands a better chance of success this time. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition has a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and public worries about terrorism ahead of the Olympics have grown after deadly attacks overseas, although an opinion poll released by Kyodo news agency on March 12 showed 45.5 per cent were opposed to the bill while 33 per cent favoured it. 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 US 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. REUTERS RSD 0822

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India, France ink pact for cooperation in conservation of caves

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19 Jun 2018 | 10:48 PM

Paris, June 19 (UNI) India and France on Tuesday inked a Letter of Intent on cooperation in the field of conservation of pre-historic ornate caves and rock shelters.

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Migrant children cry for separated parents

19 Jun 2018 | 4:33 PM

New York, June 19 (UNI) An audio recording in which migrant children in the US can be heard crying for their parents has been released as US President Donald Trump remains defiant over his immigration policy, a BBC News report has said.

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Puan, oldest known Sumatran orangutan, dies in Australia

19 Jun 2018 | 4:23 PM

Jakarta, June 19 (UNI) The world's oldest known Sumatran orangutan has died in an Australian zoo aged 62, leaving behind 54 descendants, according to a BBC News report.

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Dozens feared dead as overloaded Sumatra ferry sinks

19 Jun 2018 | 4:18 PM

Jakarta, June 19 (UNI) Indonesian rescuers are searching for more than 100 people missing after a ferry sank on a lake in Sumatra.

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Lt General Aziz Ahmed is new Bangladesh army chief

19 Jun 2018 | 3:49 PM

Dhaka, Jun 19 ( UNI) Lieutenant General Aziz Ahmed has been appointed as the new chief of staff of Bangladesh Army.

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