(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Shouting and protests couldn't keep Japan's controversial anti-terror law from passing on Thursday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc ramming the bill through parliament's upper house, taking the rare step of skipping a committee vote to speed things up.
"We want to pass this law in order to protect the lives and property of our people," said Abe. "We are holding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralymics in three years and must sign the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime as soon as possible, so we can work with the international community to prevent terrorism before it happens."
The new law criminalizes conspiracy to commit terrorism and other serious crimes.
It's a clear win for Abe, who's backed the bill for a long time, but it's split the public, sparking opposition protests and a warning from a UN expert who called it "defective."
Critics say the bill takes aim a lot of so-called "serious offenses" that have no obvious connection to terrorism or organized crime, like sit-ins to protest construction of apartment buildings and copying music.
They see is as part of a broader effort by Abe to ramp up state powers and fear ordinary citizens could become targets.
Some even compare the law to Japan's World War II-era "thought police."