People found in possession of lock-picking tools may face criminal charges if they cannot give a valid reason for having them, according to a bill approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

The government hopes the bill, aimed at reducing burglaries, will clear the Diet during the current session, which is scheduled to continue through June, government officials said.

Under the bill, which was drafted by the National Police Agency, people would be banned from possessing tools used exclusively to open locks unless they have a “justifiable” reason.

It would also ban concealing on one’s person certain other tools that could be used for break-ins, including screwdrivers and bars that can be used to break windows.

Offenders would face up to one year in prison or a fine up to 500,000 yen.

Those who sell or give lock-picking tools to a third-party with the knowledge that they may be used criminally would face a prison term of up to two years or a fine as high as 1 million yen.

The bill would require lock manufacturers and importers to provide information on their products’ anticrime features, including how many minutes the lock is expected to withstand picking.

It also stipulates that when certain locks are found to be at high risk of picking, the National Public Safety Commission would instruct the manufacturer to improve the product, or in some cases, cease its manufacture.

If the companies do not comply, the commission would have the right to publicize the firms’ names and their products.

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