National / Politics

Government plans to submit conspiracy bill in upcoming Diet session

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of senior members of the ruling coalition Thursday that the government plans to submit a bill to criminalize conspiracy during the Diet session beginning later this month, according to an attendee.

The bill would aim to enhance Japan’s ability to ward off terrorism connected to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Initiatives to add a conspiracy charge to the existing law on organized crime have floundered in the past amid concerns it could encourage invasive state surveillance and allow investigators to arbitrarily punish people who have not committed any crime.

Thursday’s meeting between senior government officials and members of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito followed Abe’s Wednesday announcement that the Diet session will convene Jan. 20.

“With (the Olympics and Paralympics) now just three years away, we must take every measure to prevent organized crime, including terrorism, in advance,” Suga told a news conference.

The bill is expected to include new terms and definitions in an effort to avoid the same fate as three previously scrapped attempts.

“We are making final arrangements reflecting the opinions that have previously come up in the Diet,” Suga said.

The government views the introduction of a conspiracy charge as a prerequisite for Japan to ratify the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted in 2000.

Suga said Japan is among a minority of U.N. members — and the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized countries — yet to have done so.

But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has criticized this stance, saying that the U.N. treaty can be ratified without the conspiracy clause.

The Justice Ministry has long been pushing for codification of the conspiracy clause, though it has been short on details.

On its website, the ministry said the revised law will allow police to protect “people from heinous crimes committed by organized criminal groups,” including terrorist organizations.