Japan accused of stifling freedom with new terror law

People protest outside the National Diet on June 15, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.

Story highlights

  • Prime Minister Abe said the legislation is necessary to keep Japan safe
  • But critics claim it could put "democracy in hand cuffs"

(CNN)Japan's parliament has passed a controversial "anti-conspiracy" bill which critics say could be used to curb civil liberties across the country.

The bill, which has been criticized by both the Japanese Bar Association and the United Nation's Special Rapporteur, was passed early Thursday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition, who hold a majority in the Diet, the nation's Parliament.
    According to Abe, the new laws will help to crack down on terrorism and organized crime in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by allowing police to arrest individuals and groups planning to commit offenses.
    "The law to punish terrorism preparation has just (been) enacted," he said Thursday. "We would like to implement the law appropriately and effectively in order to protect the lives and the assets of the Japanese people."
    But the Japanese Bar Association said in a statement the law would "highly likely infringe civil liberties," adding under the legislation people protesting a building site could be imprisoned.
    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe arrive in Florida in February 2017.