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LDP forgoes immediate Diet submission of human rights bill.

TOKYO, May 10 Kyodo

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided Tuesday not to seek immediate submission to the Diet of a controversial human rights bill as intraparty efforts to seek a compromise over the bill continue, party members said.

LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kaoru Yosano and representatives of groups of party members promoting and opposing the bill agreed Monday to make a list of problems by the end of May and discuss them, making Diet submission impossible until June at the earliest, they said.

The accord is believed to have made Diet passage of the bill less likely during the ongoing parliamentary session.

The current 150-day regular Diet session ends on June 19 and the LDP plans to seek an extension of the session to enact postal privatization laws.

One key reason for the party to forgo early submission of the bill is to prioritize passage of the postal privatization bills, a senior party member said.

The government submitted a human rights protection bill to the Diet in 2002 but the bill was scrapped the following year over contentious points, particularly regarding freedom of expression and a clause barring the media from excessive coverage of individuals.

The LDP earlier this year began seeking to submit a revised bill to the Diet during the current session by adding a provision to suspend the media clause.

The LDP has envisioned initially freezing the provision on media controls and possibly lift it depending on efforts by media organizations to resolve rights violations. Media groups and others have objected to the clause, saying it could infringe on freedom of expression.

Some LDP members, however, raised objections from a different point, saying only Japanese nationals should be named as human rights protection monitors stipulated in the bill.

Human rights protection monitors are volunteers commissioned by the Justice Ministry to promote human rights awareness, to check for any violations of human rights and to make efforts to protect such rights in their communities.

The LDP's Judicial Affairs Division earlier postponed endorsing the bill on two occasions due to concerns that foreign residents of Japan might be named as monitors and ''give preferential treatment'' to certain countries or organizations.

The LDP members involved in the bill revision have sought to include a nationality clause because they think Japanese people are especially sensitive to nationality issues due to North Korea's abductions of Japanese.

Thousands of Koreans with permanent resident status in Japan belong to a pro-Pyongyang residents group.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:May 16, 2005
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