Japan's LDP eyes tough protest rules

TOKYO: Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party will discuss regulating noisy demonstrations and campaigns held on streets around the parliament building as well as those with racist rhetoric anywhere in the country, according to its project team which held its first meeting Thursday.

The expected move prompted some lawmakers of both the ruling and opposition parties to express concerns that citizens' voices unfavorable to the government could be turned down under an effective gag rule.

"The present environment (for parliamentarians) is not suitable for work. We have to maintain a work-friendly environment, which requires discussion without any fear of criticism," said Sanae Takaichi, chairperson of the LDP's Policy Research Council, at the meeting.

Police take action under a law to restrict the use of loudspeakers around parliament about once a year, a National Police Agency official said.

Opposition Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda told reporters during a visit to Oita, southwestern Japan, "It's not fair (for the government) to contain unfavorable voices."

A senior member of the New Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of the LDP, said, "Setting up regulations...I think it's going too far," noting that demonstrations are held as a way for citizens to express opinions on government policies.

The LDP team will also discuss whether a new law is required to bring hate speech under control with a view to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. "Cursing people from a particular country or ethnicity makes me ashamed as a Japanese," said Takaichi.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee urged Japan in July to ban activities that support hate speech against Korean residents in the country and fuel discrimination.

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