LDP calls for free education among other areas of Constitution change

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Thursday that free education could be one of the issues that deserve consideration in a constitutional revision, in addition to amendment of the war-renouncing article of the supreme law.

The LDP made the proposal at a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Constitution Commission, but Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition ally, was cautious about the idea amid concerns over how to fund such steps. The main opposition Democratic Party opposed the plan, saying that the issue can be dealt with by creating laws.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his constitutional amendment proposal on May 3 that adding a reference to the Self-Defense Forces in the war-renouncing Article 9 is worth debating, while touching on free education as another area that should be subject to discussion.

At the lower house panel meeting, LDP member Hajime Funada said the current Constitution stipulates the right to education in Article 26, but there are cases in which it is not fully guaranteed due to economic constraints.

He proposed revising the article with the aim of guaranteeing the right to receive education “regardless of economic reasons.”

For Japanese nationals, six years at elementary school and three years at junior high school are compulsory and Article 26 says “compulsory education shall be free.”

Abe, in his remarks on May 3, said higher education must also be “truly open to all people.” Funada said at the lower house panel that LDP members are discussing which levels of education — either preschool or high school — need to be cost-free.

Abe and the LDP are apparently turning to the education issue, which is a topic of interest to the Japan Innovation Party, to win the reform-minded smaller opposition party over to its side in moving ahead with the country’s first-ever revision of the postwar Constitution.

The opposition party based in the western city of Osaka has been calling for the need to make education free at every stage through a constitutional amendment.

One of its members, Yasushi Adachi, said, “If the matter is written in the Constitution, it will not be affected by policy changes of the government of the time.”

Democratic Party member Shiori Yamao, however, said, “It is appropriate to delve into the issue by discussing how to fund the measures through laws.” The tiny opposition Social Democratic Party took a similar position.

Komeito’s Tetsuo Saito, meanwhile, called for cautious discussions on the issue.

The LDP, Komeito, the Japan Innovation Party and other pro-constitutional reform forces currently occupy a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet, which is required to initiate an amendment. The proposal then must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum.




‘Conspiracy bill’ draws backlash in Japan over state powers

Japan’s lower house approved a bill Tuesday allowing authorities to punish those found guilty of planning serious crimes, legislation that opponents say could be used to undermine basic civil liberties.

The proposed legislation, called the “conspiracy bill,” still requires upper house approval.

The government says it’s needed to fight terrorism and organized crime, especially before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Lawmakers speaking in support of the legislation pointed to the explosion late Monday in Manchester, England, that killed at least 22 people as a reason for backing the bill.

But thousands of Japanese have taken to the streets to protest what they see as the latest effort to unduly increase police powers.

Opposition lawmakers referred to it as an “evil law.”

Japan’s history as a police state before and during World War II has made many here wary of granting the government powers that might impinge on personal privacy and other rights.

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the parliament building Tuesday, shouting and waving signs and banners to voice their opposition.

“This will bind us so tightly. I wonder why the government and those in power need so much power over us?” said Chizuko Kurata, a protester in her 70s.

A survey by the Kyodo News agency showed that public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet fell slightly after the ruling coalition rammed the bill through a committee hearing on Friday. There, opposition lawmakers shouted and sought to rip documents from the hands of the committee chairman, trying unsuccessfully to block the vote after having failed to win a vote of no confidence against the justice minister.

Kyodo said 77 percent of the 1,033 respondents polled said the government had failed to fully explain the need for the bill. Opinions on the bill were almost evenly divided, however, with slightly more opposed than in favor.

The ruling Liberal Democrats’ ability to force through legislation with help from its coalition partner the Komeito raises hackles in harmony-oriented Japan. The two parties intend to win full passage of the bill during the current parliamentary session, and debate in the upper house is likely to be ferocious.

Abe has argued that the bill is needed for Japan to ratify a United Nations treaty on international organized crime that took effect in 2003.

But legal scholars say Japan’s criminal code already holds conspirators responsible for criminal acts and mandates punishments for preparing for such crimes.

“In Japan’s case, the police already have very broad powers of surveillance. They have other broad powers related to criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions,” said Lawrence Repeta, a legal scholar and director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union.

“To add even more at this point would really be overkill,” he said.

The U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy sent an open letter to Abe last week citing concerns over including 277 new types of crimes in the bill, which would revise Japan’s Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds.

It said the law would include offenses that have nothing to do with organized crime or terrorism, such as theft of lumber in forest reserves and violations of copyrights. It also cites planning and “preparatory actions” as justifications for investigations that would require significant amounts of surveillance.

“Serious concern is expressed that the proposed bill, in its current form and in combination with other legislation, may affect the exercise of the right to privacy as well as other fundamental public freedoms given its potential broad application,” said the letter from Joseph Cannataci, the rapporteur.

The government strongly objected to the letter, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who described concerns over possible violations of privacy or other rights as “utterly incorrect.”



Here we go again. 19 people are dead and 50 wounded in a suspected jihad-martyrdom suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, a target that the jihad murderers apparently chose because of its concentration of pre-teens and tweens, so as to maximize the potential to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Qur’an 8:60). But don’t be unduly concerned: Britain’s criminally feckless Prime Minister Theresa May is on the job, saying in a statement: “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

As canned responses go, that one is particularly packaged, processed, and colorless. How grand that she is thinking about the victims and their families. And the police are on the job! Marvelous! Britons can go back to sleep, knowing that selfless public servants such as May are working tirelessly to protect them.

But there was one key element that May left out of her statement: an apology.

One of the things she should apologize for is the routine aspect of her response to this latest jihad massacre. There was nothing she said about this jihad attack that could not have been said about ten jihad massacres before it, and will not be said about the next ten. The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said after the jihad bombings in New York City in September 2016 that such attacks were “part and parcel of living in a big city” and that people would just have “to be prepared for these sorts of things” to happen, and May is behaving as if she has thoroughly internalized these instructions.

In reality, no one in a big city or a small one, or out on the farm, should ever accept jihad terror massacres as “part and parcel” of living there. Sadiq Khan’s statement was a declaration of his inability or unwillingness to do anything effective to counter the jihad threat.

And that brings us to the second and more important reason why May should apologize: because she and the political establishment she represents have allowed this to happen.

If it weren’t for the immigration policies that May and her Conservative Party, in collaboration with the other British establishment parties, have pursued for well over a decade, the jihadis who perpetrated this massacre may not have been in Britain at all. Of course, it may yet be discovered that they were “homegrown terrorists,” born and raised in the UK. But here again, the British political establishment has accommodated and appeased the Muslim community at every turn, allowing for the establishment of Sharia courts and partnering with numerous “moderates” who turned out, surprise surprise, really to be “extremists.”

Meanwhile, the full wrath of the British government has been unleashed upon those British citizens who have dared to dissent from this madness and to declare publicly their support for the preservation of British national security, as well as the national character and culture. All too many of these people have been hounded and persecuted, arrested and prosecuted on the flimsiest of pretexts. Others who were in a position to prosecute Muslim rape gangs hesitated for fear of being branded “racist.” May has, meanwhile barred foreign foes of jihad terror from entering the country at all (including me), while allowing the most hair-raising preachers of jihad violence to enter the country and preach all over it with impunity.

As she implemented these policies, what did May think would happen? What did Britons? Did they really think that by coddling their Muslim population, winking at the crimes Muslims committed in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings, and muzzling all dissent from these policies, that it would make Muslims feel welcome in Britain, and that Muslims and non-Muslims would march arm-in-arm together into the glorious multicultural future?

In other words, did they really think that being nice to Muslims would make Muslims forget the jihad imperatives of the Qur’an and Sunnah? Did they really think that if they appeased their Muslim community, that they would be spared further jihad deaths?

They won’t. Manchester was “only the beginning,” said an Islamic State jihadi in a video released just after the massacre Monday night. And that is true: Manchester is only the beginning, thanks to Theresa May. If a modicum of sanity prevailed in Britain, she would be forced to apologize and resign in disgrace.

Instead, she is looking to be overwhelmingly elected to the Prime Minister’s office in her own right in the coming elections. Britons should enjoy that election, because they won’t be enjoying very many more of them.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.


Mayor on trial for bribery wins 3rd term uncontested

The mayor of a central Japan city who is appealing a high court conviction for bribery secured his third term Sunday after becoming the only person to file candidacy for the May 21 election by the start of the official campaign period.

With major political parties deciding not to field candidates, Hiroto Fujii, 32, won uncontested just five months after he stepped down as mayor of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, and sought a mandate following the bribery conviction.

Fujii, who became the youngest mayor of a Japanese city in June 2013, overwhelmingly won re-election in January in the city with a population of around 56,000 to serve out the remainder of his term.

He was arrested in 2014 for allegedly accepting bribes. The Nagoya District Court acquitted him, but the high court in November found him guilty of receiving 300,000 yen ($2,650) in bribes, handing down a suspended sentence. He appealed the ruling.

“The incident is absolutely groundless,” Fujii told his supporters. “Since I don’t have any guilty feelings, I will continue to do the mayor’s job at full strength,” he added.

His defense team said it expects a Supreme Court ruling to take at least a year. He would lose the post if his conviction is finalized at the top court.

The regional court in Nagoya sentenced the head of a groundwater supply installation company in Nagoya, who confessed to bribery, to four years in prison. The sentence has been finalized.

The Liberal Democratic Party decided not to field a candidate citing little chance of winning, while the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have said they could not find a good contender for the race.