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Saturday, May 20, 2006
LDP amends conspiracy bill yet again
By MASAMI ITO
The ruling coalition on Friday chose not to steamroll a contentious conspiracy bill through the House of Representatives and instead submitted a third set of changes to the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs in an attempt to get the opposition's support.
Liberal Democratic Party Diet affairs chief Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters that the latest change is the limit, and that the ruling bloc will continue consultations with the opposition parties.
He added that he hopes the bill can be put to a committee vote sometime next week.
The bill from the ruling coalition -- the LDP and New Komeito -- has been revised to limit the crimes for which people can be charged with conspiracy to those punishable by prison terms of at least five years and not four as in the original bill. The change removes 13 crimes from the list, bringing the total covered to 602, LDP lawmaker Chuko Hayakawa told the committee.
The Democratic Party of Japan, however, has been arguing that the line should be drawn at "more than five years' imprisonment," which would nearly halve the number of crimes covered.
Crimes punishable by five years or more in prison include child prostitution by brokers and money-laundering by loan sharks, "which are serious cases of organized crime . . . and cannot be excluded," Hayakawa said.
Under the current law, people can only be charged with committing a crime or plotting a serious crime.
The conspiracy bill has been submitted to the Diet twice since 2003 and scrapped both times due to resistance.