Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s proposal to seek legal revisions in a bid to prevent crimes by the mentally ill faced government opposition Tuesday.

Koizumi has indicated he would like to see the Penal Code revised to ensure that mentally ill people who commit crimes do not become repeat offenders, in the wake of Friday’s slaying of eight schoolchildren by a man with a history of mental problems.

But members of the government and ruling coalition opposed the idea, saying that confinement or isolation of the mentally ill could infringe on their human rights.

Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama told reporters Tuesday that discussions on prevention of crimes by the mentally ill will not necessarily include a revision of the Penal Code. Moriyama said she does not think Koizumi meant to seek a revision of the law when he first broached the topic during the recording of a television program Saturday.

“I have not interpreted the prime minister’s words as meaning, ‘We will revise the Penal Code,’ ” she said.

“We must be careful when discussing the Penal Code,” said Takenori Kanzaki, leader of New Komeito.

Debate on how to treat mentally ill people who commit crimes came into focus after eight children were fatally stabbed and 15 other wounded Friday at an elementary school in Osaka Prefecture.

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