Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday that his government will begin studying possible revisions to the law regarding crimes by mentally ill people following Friday’s massacre of eight children by a man with a history of psychiatric illness.
“There are issues that must be dealt with both from the point of view of medical treatment and the Penal Code,” Koizumi told an NHK TV program to be aired today.
“We must correct what is insufficient,” he said. The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party “will deal with this problem in a serious manner starting Monday.”
The comments came a day after 37-year-old Mamoru Takuma allegedly stabbed eight children to death and injured 15 others, including two teachers, in a killing spree at an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture.
In 1999, Takuma was arrested for allegedly poisoning teachers with tea laced with tranquilizers at another elementary school. Because of his illness, however, he was not indicted and was sent to a hospital. He was eventually released.
“We are beginning to see cases in which those (with mental illnesses) who are arrested return to society and commit crimes again,” Koizumi said. “The safe society is crumbling and this is a significant incident.”
During the program, Koizumi also stated that his goal for the upcoming House of Councilors election in July would be for the LDP and its two coalition allies — New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — to win a combined majority.
“If the three parties maintain a combined majority, it will set the stage for conducting reforms,” he said. “It would be an expression of hope from the public that Koizumi’s reforms will be implemented.”
Koizumi also said that he will not reshuffle his Cabinet after the Upper House election.
“I want to continue working with the same members,” said Koizumi, who has pledged to keep the same ministers in place as long as he is in office.
“I only formed my Cabinet in April, so in July it would only be a few months old. Changing ministers after they have learned (how to do their jobs) would be rude both to the ministers and the public,” he said.
Koizumi also repeated that he does not plan to dissolve the more powerful House of Representatives for an early general election to coincide with the Upper House poll.
“It is said that prime ministers are allowed to lie about when they plan to dissolve (the Lower House), but I’m serious. I will not call a double election,” he said.
Koizumi’s sky-high support ratings have triggered speculation that he may call the dual vote even though he has repeatedly denied that possibility.
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