Japan will consider fresh measures against stalking involving GPS devices after the nation’s top court ruled in July such activity does not violate the existing anti-stalking law, police said Thursday.
The National Police Agency said it will set up a panel of experts on Friday to study revision of the law regulating stalking to better protect victims. The panel is expected to compile a proposal on the issue by the end of January, according to the agency.
The Supreme Court ruling said that, as the current anti-stalking law only bans monitoring victims around certain locations, such as their residences and workplaces, securing location information remotely does not infringe on the legislation.
The top court decision covered two cases in which victims were monitored by GPS. In one, the defendant searched for a victim more than 600 times over a period of around 10 months. Perpetrators often plants GPS devices on targets’ cars.
The anti-stalking law enacted in 2000 has been revised twice to cover wider offenses, including those involving social media, but it has no specific regulations over the use of GPS. Offenders face a prison term of up to two years or a fine of up to ¥2 million.
The six-member panel includes legal studies professors, a lawyer and Kenichi Ino, 70, whose daughter Shiori was killed aged 21 in a high-profile stalking case in 1999.
Before the Supreme Court decision, police across the country had taken action in a total of 59 cases of GPS monitoring of stalking victims since 2014, according to the NPA.
The police currently lend security cameras to stalking victims for installation at their homes and plan to also offer dashboard cameras from next fiscal year starting April to help collect evidence.
In 2019, police nationwide dealt with a total of 20,912 consultations over suspected stalking, topping 20,000 for the seventh consecutive year, and took action in 2,355 of the cases.
“We have to take necessary steps, given the fact that there are (stalking) victims who feel insecure,” a senior agency official said.