The government should stop emphasizing that "ordinary people" would never be targeted by the legislation being prepared to penalize the acts of plotting and preparing for crimes without carrying them out. The Justice Ministry now explains that a group that engaged in legitimate activities can be punished under the law if its purpose has changed to criminal acts. That judgment will likely rest with the investigation authorities, and to make such a judgment they will need to investigate such a group.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that members of such a group cannot possibly be called "ordinary people" if its purpose has turned criminal. He cites the example of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which engaged in murderous acts including a sarin gas attack on Tokyo's subways in 1995, noting that Aum had initially been recognized by the government as a religious organization prior to it turning into a criminal group. True, ordinary people can engage in criminal acts. But then it's misleading to claim that "ordinary" citizens — the definition of which is vague from the beginning — would never be targeted.
The Abe administration has ruled out the possibility of ordinary citizens being targeted by the planned legislation in its attempt to give the impression that it will be entirely different from the government's past aborted bills to make it punishable for people to conspire to commit a crime without actually carrying it out. Officials say the legislation will penalize the acts of making actual preparations to commit a crime, as opposed to merely plotting to commit the crime. Since the past bills came under severe criticism and opposition because their target was broadly defined as "groups" — which the opponents said may include civic groups and labor unions — the latest version of the bill purports to target "organized crime groups." The administration calls it legislation to penalize preparing for "terrorism and other" crimes to cast it as an anti-terrorism measure that the nation needs before it hosts the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.