The Japanese government will not submit a bill that would introduce a conspiracy charge to the law on organized crime during the extraordinary Diet session beginning Sept 26, its top spokesman said Friday.
The government had been pushing for introduction of the charge to aid counterterrorism efforts in the lead-up to Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, but there is unlikely to be enough time in the packed extra parliamentary session to properly deliberate the contentious bill.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference the bill is not on the list planned for the session, citing the need to debate it thoroughly. “In the past, the argument has been made that we should carefully consider various options (for the bill) in the Diet.”
The session is expected to be dominated by debate over the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which Japan inked with 11 other Pacific Rim nations in February, as well as a supplementary budget.
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.
“The fact is that 187 countries and regions have signed up and we are the only country in the (Group of Seven industrialized countries) to have not done so, and I fully recognize the necessity of doing this for the prevention of terrorism,” Suga said.
Three previous bills aiming to criminalize conspiracy have been scrapped before reaching the Diet amid concerns they would encourage invasive state surveillance and allow investigators to arbitrarily punish people who have not committed crimes.
According to government sources, in the latest bill the Ministry of Justice has pushed for the charge to be named “preparation for crime by terrorist and other organizations.”
The writers of the bill have planned to limit the application of the charge to criminal groups of an organized nature, and to require “preparatory acts” for a crime to have taken place rather than simply conspiracy, the sources said.
Preparations for more than 600 crimes, including theft and fraud, come under the conspiracy charge in the bill, although these are limited to serious crimes punishable by sentences of four or more years’ imprisonment.