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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Japan: Ports and Harbors Act Amended to Encourage More Foreign Visitors from Cruise Ships

(July 25, 2016) The Japanese government has in recent years made efforts to attract greater numbers of foreign visitors.  To that end, the Cabinet established the Tourism-Oriented Country Promotion Cabinet Members Conference in 2013. (Regarding Establishment of the Tourism-Oriented Country Promotion Cabinet Members Conference, Cabinet Consent (Mar. 26, 2013), Cabinet website (in Japanese).) As one part of these efforts, the Ports and Harbors Act has been amended, and the amendment was promulgated on May 20, 2016. (Act to Amend the Ports and Harbors Act, Act No. 45 of 2016, OFFICIAL GAZETTE (in Japanese).)

The number of foreign tourists going to Japan has been increasing over the last few years, and during the first half of 2016, 11.7 million foreigners visited the country, the highest number thus far and representing a 28.2% increase over the number from the first half of 2015. (Foreign Visitors to Japan, Highest Number, 11.71 Million … Spending per Person Decreased, YOMIURI NEWSPAPER (July 20, 2016) (in Japanese).) One rapidly increasing category is visitors coming to Japan on foreign cruise ships. (Bill to Partially Amend Ports and Harbors Act, at 1, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism website (last visited July 25, 2016) (in Japanese).)

The government decided to facilitate improvements to Japanese ports to accommodate more foreign visitors arriving by cruise ship. The amendment makes no-interest government loans available for construction costs of port facilities incurred in making ports ready for tourists. (Ports and Harbors Act, Act No. 218 of 1950, amended by Act No. 45 of 2016, art. 55-7 ¶ 2.) In addition, the amendment authorizes port authorities to designate non-profit organizations (NPOs) as cooperative organizations and to promote tourism jointly with them. (Id. art. 41-2.) For example, NPOs and the port authority can host events to welcome tourists arriving by cruise ships. (Id. art. 41-3.)

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Japan: PCB Special Measures Act Amended

(July 25, 2016) An amendment to the Act on Special Measures for Promotion of Proper Treatment of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) (PCB Special Measures Act) was promulgated by the Japanese government on May 2, 2016. (Act No. 34 of 2016, OFFICIAL GAZETTE (in Japanese).) PCBs, which are ”man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms,” have been shown “to cause a variety of adverse health effects.” (Learn About Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, (last visited July 25, 2016).) 

The government intends to make sure that the treatment of PCB is done in accordance with the schedule that it had previously established. The amendment obligates owners of waste that contains PCB to take measures to have the PCB properly treated. In addition, prefecture governments now have the authority to collect reports on PCB waste and to carry out on-site inspections. (Notice Regarding Cabinet Decision on Amendment to PCB Special Measures Act (Notice), Ministry of Environment (MOE) website (Mar. 1, 2016) (in Japanese).)

Background on Treatment of PCB

The manufacturing of PCB was banned in 1972. (Id.) Owners of PCB-containing waste must store it following the Standards on Specially Managed Industrial Waste Disposal. The Standards require waste material with PCB to be stored separately, in a manner that prevents leaks, and marked as containing PCB. (Summary of Standards on Specially Managed Industrial Waste Disposal, MOE website (in Japanese) (last visited July 22, 2016).)

For 30 years following the enactment of the ban, there was little progress in establishing facilities that can treat PCB, although some companies established effective methods to treat PCB waste and treated their own PCB waste in the 1990s. (Committee on Evaluating the PCB Waste Disposal Business, Mid-Term Report (Mar. 2003), at 11, MOE website (in Japanese).)

In 2001, the PCB Special Measures Act (Act No. 65 of 2001) was enacted. Based on the Act, the government established five facilities that treat waste with high concentrations of PCB. (PCB Waste Treatment, JESCO (last visited July 22, 2016).) The government planned to process all waste with high concentrations of PCB by 2024, but there is doubt as to whether the process will be completed by that time. (Notice, supra.)

Waste with low concentrations of PCB is treated by waste disposal facilities certified by the Minister of Environment or licensed by prefectural governors under the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act. The government plans to properly process this waste (i.e., by burning it at a high temperature) through these facilities by 2027. (Toward Completion of Processing PCB Wastes by the Scheduled Time (Apr. 2015), at 1-2, MOE website (in Japanese).)

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Bahrain: High Court Orders Dissolution of Main Shi’ite Opposition Group

(July 22, 2016) On July 17, 2016, the High Civil Court of Manama, Bahrain ordered the dissolution of the Wefaq National Islamic Society. The Court’s ruling ordered the liquidation of the organization’s assets and froze all of its banks accounts. (High Court Dissolves al Wefaq, BAHRAIN NEWS AGENCY (July 7, 2016).) The Court rendered its decision after finding members of the Wefaq organization guilty of promoting extremism. The court stated that Wefaq does not respect the principle of the rule of law and does not adhere to the provisions of the law regulating and protecting the principles of coexistence, tolerance, and respect for others. The Court also argued that the organization fosters an atmosphere for the incubation of terrorism, extremism, and violence. Furthermore, it claimed that the Wefaq organization is funded by foreign groups and other countries aiming at creating chaos within Bahraini society. Accordingly, the Court authorized the Ministry of Finance to confiscate all monetary accounts of the organization in Bahraini banks. Finally, the Court accused the Wefaq organization of calling for the foreign interference in the national affairs of the country. (Bahrain Court Dissolves Main Shi’ite Opposition, REUTERS (July 17, 2016).)

Applicable Laws

Law 51 of 2012, amending Penal Code No.15 of 1976, establishes crimes such as the spreading of false news for the purpose of harming national security, promoting violence, and acts of terrorism. (Law 51 of 2012, 3073 AL JARIDAH AL RASMYIAH (Oct. 11, 2012) (in Arabic).) Title I describes crimes against national security, as established under Penal Code No. 15 of 1976, and also penalizes the offense of receiving money from a foreign entity in order to create chaos or harm public order and national security. (Royal Decree Promulgates Law No.15 of 1976, 1170 AL JARIDAH AL RASMYIAH (Apr. 8, 1976) (in Arabic).) Although the Penal Code does not call for the dissolution of the political organizations, Law 34 of 2014, amending article 23 of Law 26 of 2005 on Political Organizations, authorizes a court to dissolve an organization and freeze its assets and bank accounts if it violates the provisions of the Constitution. The court decision must be based on a request submitted to a civil court by the Ministry of Justice. (Law 34 of 2014, 3171 AL JARIDAH AL RASMYIAH (Aug. 28, 2014) (in Arabic).)

Background

In June 2016, the Court of Appeal in Manama sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, the General Secretary of the Al Wefaq, to nine years in prison after finding him guilty of insulting the Ministry of the Interior, promoting terrorism, and attempting to overthrow the political system by force. (Bahrain Ramps up Opposition Chief Ali Salman’s Sentence, AL JAZEERA (May 30, 2016).) Other members of the party were also sentenced to a period of imprisonment after being convicted of spreading false news. (Bahrain Court Orders Shia Opposition Group to Be Dissolved, GUARDIAN (July 17, 2016).)

In the same month, following the request of the Ministry of the Interior, the Bahraini authorities stripped the spiritual leader of the Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Issa Qassim, of his Bahraini citizenship and charged him with playing a vital role in establishing an environment of extremism among Bahraini citizens. (Id.)

Reaction to the Recent Decision

Human rights activists in Bahrain and abroad have denounced the Court decision. They claim that it violates the right to freedom of speech. The defense lawyers for the Wefaq also accused the Court of being biased after the judge prevented them from going back to the offices of the party to prepare their defense. (Id.) International organizations, such as Amnesty International and the European Parliament, have demanded that the Bahraini authorities free all political activists and drop all charges. (Bahrain’s Main Shia Opposition Bloc Dissolved by Court, RUSSIA TODAY (July 17, 2016).)

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United Nations: Agreement on Illegal Fishing

(July 22, 2016) In a July 1, 2016, statement, the Director-General of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, lauded an agreement on illegal fishing which, although concluded on November 22, 2009, just came into force on June 5, 2016. The Director-General stated that “[g]enerations to come will recognize the importance of this achievement … .” (UN Agency Urges Implementation of Accord to Tackle Illegal Fishing, UN NEWS CENTRE (July 12, 2016); Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (Nov. 22, 2009) (the Agreement), FAO website.)

According to the Abstract attached to the Agreement, the pact “seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through the adoption and implementation of effective port State measures as a means of ensuring the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources.” (Abstract, id.) The FAO stated that the Agreement will increase regional and international cooperation and will help harmonize port rules.  It noted that the “Agreement is binding and stipulates minimum port States measures. However, countries are free to adopt more stringent measures than those outlined in the Agreement.” (The Benefits of Ratifying and Implementing the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement, FAO website (last visited July 18, 2016).)

The Treaty is the first binding international agreement concerned with illegal fishing; at present more than 30 individual countries and the European Union have acceded to it. It establishes a requirement for foreign vessels to permit inspections at all ports and for nations with ports to control how their own fishing fleets behave. It seeks to prevent illegally caught fish from coming ashore and being sold, thus making improper fishing unprofitable. (UN Agency Urges Implementation of Accord to Tackle Illegal Fishing, supra.)

Graziano da Silva has noted that due to limited resources, some countries will have difficulty implementing the Agreement. (Id.) It specifies that “Parties shall cooperate to establish appropriate funding mechanisms to assist developing States in the implementation of this Agreement.” (Agreement, art. 4, supra.) The FAO is also establishing an inter-regional “Technical Cooperation Programme” and a “Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme” to help put the provisions of the Agreement into effect. Graziano da Silva said that the “FAO is working to deliver immediate support to those countries that are most in need of it.” (UN Agency Urges Implementation of Accord to Tackle Illegal Fishing, supra.)

The FAO estimates that the up to 26 million tons of fish caught improperly each year have a value of about $23 billion. The illegal activity puts marine ecosystems in jeopardy and harms the incomes and food security of millions of fishermen. (Id.)

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Israel: Laws Authorize Expulsion of Lawmakers Engaged in Incitement to Racism or Support of Armed Struggle Against the State

(July 21, 2016) On July 20, 2016, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Basic Law: the Knesset (Amendments No. 44) (BLK), and the Knesset Law (Amendment No. 43) (KL), both dated 5776-2016.  (Knesset website (click on Issue No. 216 (last visited July 20, 2016) (both laws in Hebrew); Basic Law: the Knesset, (5718 – 1958), as amended, Knesset website (unofficial translation by Dr. Susan Hattis Rolef) (last visited July 20, 2016) (the Law); Knesset Law, 5754-1994, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, the official gazette] 5754 No. 1462, p. 140, as amended.)

The BLK authorizes the termination of Knesset membership for a Knesset Member determined by a majority of at least 90 Members to have engaged in incitement to racism or support of armed struggle against the state after being elected to the Knesset. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(1) to the law.) The activities that are the subject of the determination had already constituted grounds for barring participation of candidates in elections to the Knesset under sections 7a.(a)(2-3) of the Law.

Membership termination under the new provisions may only be imposed in response to a proposal by the Knesset Committee, made based on a majority decision of three-fourths of its members, initiated by 70 Members including at least 10 from opposition parties. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A (c) (2) to the Law).

The seat of a Member who is the subject of a termination determination will become vacant 14 days after the Knesset’s determination. During this 14-day period, the relevant Member will not permitted to participate in hearings in the Knesset or its committees, except for the purpose of voting. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(3) to the Law.) The Knesset determination may be appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court. (BLK §1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(4) to the Law.)

The KL provides specifics for implementation of the authority to terminate a Member’s position under the BLK. A request for termination should be submitted to the Knesset chairperson in writing and should include an explanation and substantiating evidence. (KL § 1, adding subsection Chapter D1 § 8A(a) to the Knesset Law.) The Knesset Committee must not propose and the Knesset must not decide to terminate a membership unless the Member, by him/herself or through a legal representative, the Knesset Attorney, and the Government Attorney have been provided with the opportunity to express their views.  (Id., adding § 8A(c) to the Knesset Law.) The KL provides time limits for consideration of a membership termination request by the Knesset Committee and by the Knesset at large, as well as for filing an appeal to the Supreme Court.  (Id., adding § 8A(d-g) to the Knesset Law.)

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