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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 February 1 - 7  > JCP Fujino: ‘Conspiracy bill’ will lead to creation of surveillance society
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2017 February 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

JCP Fujino: ‘Conspiracy bill’ will lead to creation of surveillance society

February 3, 2017
Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Fujino Yasufumi in a Diet discussion revealed that the so-called “conspiracy bill”, which the Abe government plans to propose, will allow law enforcement officers to put a wide range of citizens under surveillance and even charge them with conspiracy.

Under the pretext of improving anti-terrorism measures, the Abe government is seeking to criminalize acts of planning and preparing to carry out crimes by “organized crime syndicates”. However, the government cannot explain what the phrase “organized crime syndicates” exactly means, tacitly admitting that police officers will be allowed to conduct surveillance of almost any citizen if the bill is enacted.

At a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 2, Fujino cited a government explanation that an organized crime syndicate includes such groups as terrorist organizations, gangster groups, and drug smuggling rings. He asked if the planned bill will only deal with these three types of organizations. Justice Minister Kaneda Katsutoshi in reply said that other types of organizations may possibly be within the scope of the bill.

Kaneda added that the government will improve the wording of the bill so that labor unions, citizens’ organizations, and private companies will be excluded from the scope of the bill. However, the Justice Minister did not deny the possibility that authorities may keep tabs on ordinary citizens’ conversations on a daily basis based on the planned conspiracy law.

In response to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo who said that the phrase “organized crime syndicate” is not defined in legal terms, Fujino stressed that the definition of the term determines whether a person is punishable under the planned law. If enacted, the bill will pave the way for an unlimited expansion of police surveillance, Fujino said.

A group of criminal law scholars on February 1 issued a statement opposing the planned conspiracy bill. As of February 2, 136 academic figures expressed their support for the statement proposed by seven university professors.

As reasons for the opposition to the bill, the statement points out that Japan already has laws necessary to fight against terrorism and can conclude the UN Convention on Transnational Organizational Crime without enacting the conspiracy bill that the government plans to submit to the current session of the Diet.

The statement stresses that the best anti-terrorism measure for the Japanese government to take is to send a clear message to the world that Japan will not use its armed forces abroad, and that only by abolishing the war laws can Japan send such a message.
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