Tokyo, March 21 (IANS) Japan on Tuesday approved a bill that will, for the first time in the country, penalise criminal conspiracy in order to counter terror threats ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The government said the legislation will help in fighting terrorism and will ratify the UN convention against organised crime that Japan signed in 2000, Efe news reported.
"Considering the current situation of terrorism and in the wake of the Olympics and Paralympics to be held within three years, it is necessary to be fully prepared to prevent organised crime, including terrorism," government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga told the media.
Some groups, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, opposed the legislation arguing it will compromise personal freedoms.
Suga, however, said the legislation will solely apply to groups plotting acts of terror or other organised crimes, and is not targeted at legitimate activities of civil society groups or labour unions.
However, those opposing said the scope of the legislation is extremely vast and that it is not just restricted to terrorist groups as the government claims.
The legislation is yet to be passed by \Parliament where the coalition government has a broad majority.
This is the third time a Japanese government has proposed such a legislation, after similar bills failed to secure approval by parliament in 2003 and 2005.