With no opposition party members present, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and two other political groups on Thursday began discussing a package of revised bills to allow law enforcement officials the use of wiretaps during organized crime investigations.
Members of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party in the Lower House judicial affairs committee boycotted the question-and-answer session, saying the LDP, its partners, the Liberal Party and New Komeito, broke committee rules.
In addition, according to Tomio Sakagami, a representative of the DPJ’s committee members, the session had not been scheduled until the previous night and was decided on without the consent of the opposition parties.
“The LDP promised that each member of the committee was entitled to question the bills for four hours, but I haven’t even finished my own time,” said Yukio Edano, also of the DPJ. “They (the ruling bloc) know that we plan to submit our own version of the revised bills by Tuesday morning.”
The opposition parties argue that the legislation goes against the constitutional guarantee of such fundamental human rights as privacy of communication and protection of privacy, and needs more discussion.
They also criticized the LDP and its allied partners for breaking their promise to hold public hearings on the bills, which was brought up by an LDP representative during a television interview Sunday.
Under the revised bills submitted Wednesday, law enforcement authorities can legally use wiretaps to investigate four kinds of crimes — those involving drugs, guns, murders by underworld syndicates and mass smuggling of illegal immigrants into Japan.
The revisions, agreed to by the three parties, which hold a combined majority in both Diet chambers, are expected to pave the way for the legislation to be enacted during the current Diet session.