In an apparent bid to capitalize on Friday’s tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, several influential lawmakers have proposed adopting a previously rejected law that would give the government a stronger hand to address terrorism, but also allow authorities to make arrests just for plotting a crime.
On Tuesday, Masahiko Komura, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, suggested the law should be enacted to punish those who commit organized crimes and those who conspire to carry out criminal acts.
The government-sponsored bill has been submitted to the Diet three times in the past, only to be rejected due to public fears over the power it would give police.
Opposition lawmakers argue the definitions of “plotting” and “conspiracy” are vague and unclear. They are concerned the legislation could lead to abuses such as the targeting and arrest of ordinary citizens.
In December 2000, Japan signed a United Nations treaty aimed at fighting global organized crime. But, it has not ratified the treaty due in part to the lack of similar domestic statutes. Such organized crime laws cover acts carried out by terrorist groups as well.
“Japan has yet to ratify the treaty because a domestic law is not in place,” Komura told a meeting of LDP executives at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Tuesday, “We need to deal with such matters now.”
Later in the day, LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki agreed with Komura, saying Japan needed to enact legislation to beef up security for the planned Group of Seven meeting in the Ise-Shima area of Mie Prefecture in May.
“Next year, Japan hosts the (G-7) summit, and we have to think about how to deal with (possible) terrorism,” Tanigaki told a news conference Tuesday.
Tanigaki, the effective No. 2 man in the LDP after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said he had long believed such laws were needed.
Last January, Abe’s Cabinet was reportedly considering submitting a conspiracy crime bill to the Diet but eventually gave up on the idea in order to prioritize the more controversial security-related bills, which were later enacted by the Diet on Sept. 19.
So far, other high-ranking officials are maintaining a cautious stance toward Komura and Tanigaki’s proposal.
For his part, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We need to promote enactment of laws related to the (U.N.) treaty,” during another news conference on Tuesday.
“But anxiety and concerns have been expressed during Diet deliberations over such a conspiracy bill,” he said. “Taking that into consideration, we are now cautiously studying what should be done” with the proposed legislation.
Abe’s Cabinet had pledged to prioritize economic issues rather than those security related, at least until the Upper House election scheduled next summer.
Meanwhile, Goshi Hosono, the policy chief for the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, said such a law should not be enacted in haste as an emotional reaction to the terrorist attacks in France.
“We need to strike a balance between a system that can deal with a crisis and (measures) to protect people’s rights in a cool-headed manner,” he said. “This is really a tough job.”
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