The government will be expanding the scope of wiretapping by police to target broader types of crimes such as fraud, theft, murder and arson, based on a set of legal amendments related to criminal justice system reform. While eavesdropping on telephone conversations and email communications will give the police more tools to crack down on organized crimes, the expanded use of wiretapping will take on a new meaning as the government pushes to make it punishable for people to conspire to commit a crime without committing the act itself — since that would inevitably require keeping constant watch over suspects.

So far, wiretapping based on court warrants has been allowed in police investigations of four types of crimes — illegal drugs and firearms trade, human smuggling and murders involving an organization. Beginning Dec. 1, the scope will be expanded to cover a wider range of crimes — as part of the reforms that gave police and prosecutors more investigative tools in exchange for making it mandatory for them to electronically record interrogations of suspects in certain criminal cases, a measure intended to reduce the risk of false charges and coerced confessions.

The rules on wiretapping will also be eased. Police investigators have so far needed to go to the premises of telecom operators such as NTT and tap into the communications in the presence of company employees. The change will enable investigators to have the telecom operators send them the coded data on wiretapped communications.