Watch how people’s living can be affected By conspiracy bill now in Diet deliberation 国民生活にどう影響するのか注目 ―「共謀罪」法案の国会審議―


At present, an important bill is under deliberation in the Diet (parliament). It seeks to add a new crime of conspiracy such as terrorism to the Law for Punishment of Organized Crimes, Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Matters, the so-called Organized Crime Punishment Law. The Japanese government decided on the bill to amend the law at a Cabinet session on March 21 and submitted it to the Diet. The bill is controversial in that it was scrapped three times in the past in the face of a broad argument by the opposition parties that it could “undermine the freedom of expression” and create “a surveillance society” across the country.

Speaking at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on April 6, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated in support of the bill, “As we prepare for the next Olympic and Paralympic Games (to be held in Tokyo in 2020), it is a duty of the host country to take all possible measures to counter acts of terrorism. Enactment of this bill is indispensable to make the domestic laws ready for that purpose.” His government is aiming to pre-empt terrorism by paving the way for Japan’s accession to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The convention, adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in 2000, came into effect in 2016, but Japan has yet to sign it. To make conspiracy a crime is one of conditions required for Japan’s accession to the convention. The government-sponsored bill looks to add conspiracy to the organized crimes defined in the existing Japanese law.

The proposed amendment seeks to apply conspiracy not only to acts of terrorism but also crimes committed by gangs and fraud groups. However, it does not define the difference between organized crime groups and “other groups” and it is unclear who can be members of those “other” groups. This gives rise to criticism in the opposition camp that members of the general people can be punished once the bill becomes a law. The most controversial point, therefore, is the norms by which acts of conspiracy are made punishable.

The government says that people will not be punished by merely making antigovernment and subversive statements but that they can be punished “when they act in preparation for conspiracy” such as acquisition of funds and preliminary inspection of relevant locations. However, the opposition parties argue that police may start criminal investigation only with depositions made by those who have allegedly made preparations and participated in a subversive plan. They note in this respect that punitive actions in the proposed revision will include an “agreement” (communication of an intention to commit a crime with conspirators). They contend that punishing the “agreement” without any concrete actions could possibly involve innocent people and lead up to false charges. The revised law would allow the investigating authority to judge what will constitute the “preparatory actions”. The opposition camp is worried that such arbitrary criminal investigation can be used for suppressing antigovernment campaigns by civic organizations and labor unions.

The entire nation needs to watch the ongoing Diet debate to see how the proposed institution of conspiracy will affect their society and living.
(Written by: Yuto Yawata)







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