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Anti-sexual violence group questions Japan gov't commitment to human rights

Tamie Kaino (Mainichi)

The co-leader of a federation calling for stronger laws against sexual violence is questioning the government's commitment to human rights after it pushed the so-called "anti-conspiracy" bill through the House of Representatives on May 23.

"I wonder if the government and ruling parties are treating legal changes that impact human rights seriously," commented 72-year-old Tamie Kaino, a professor emeritus at Ochanomizu University and co-head of "Seiboryoku kinshiho o tsukuro network" (Network for creating laws against sexual violence), a federation of some 300 organizations and individuals.

In March this year, the network praised a Cabinet decision to amend Japan's penal code to stiffen sentences for sex crimes, stating, "Some issues remain, but we should welcome the content of this decision."

However, despite having been approved by the Cabinet after the sexual violence decision, the controversial anti-conspiracy legislation went to the lower house floor first.

"The ruling parties were probably pushing the opposition by saying, 'If you want the penal code revisions passed, then you'd better let the anti-conspiracy bill through fast,'" said Kaino, who has long tried to give women in a weak position a stronger voice while also calling for improved policy measures.

"One of our activities is to submit a formal objection to the authorities," she added, while also voicing worries that the powers that be could broadly interpret and abuse the provisions of the anti-conspiracy legislation.

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