National / Crime & Legal

Japanese lawyers criticize proposed conspiracy bill

Kyodo

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has said it opposes an effort by the government to criminalize conspiracy.

The government plans to submit a bill to this effect as part of moves to strengthen counterterrorism ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The so-called conspiracy bill purports to target organized crime. It will stipulate that individuals must have been involved not only in conspiring to commit a crime but also in preparatory acts such as fundraising before facing a charge.

But federation President Kazuhiro Nakamoto said in a statement Wednesday that “acts that pose no security risk, such as deposit withdrawal from an automated teller machine, could be punishable as preparatory acts under the bill.” This could lead to its scope being expanded almost without limit.

Nakamoto also said it could lead to punishment for the act of conspiracy even when a crime is not committed.

Three earlier versions of the bill were scrapped due to concerns over intrusive state surveillance and the granting of arbitrary powers to investigators.

It has also been pointed out that the criminalization of conspiracy even when no crime is committed could be used to punish civil groups and labor unions.