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Editorial: Delay in criminalizing conspiracy produces “weak link”

  • 2015-01-20 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: January 18, 2015 – p. 2)


 Despite assurances that he will undertake anti-terrorism measures, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems to be getting cold feet.


 The Abe administration has apparently decided not to submit to the ordinary Diet session a bill to revise the Organized Crime Punishment Law in order to criminalize the act of conspiracy.


 In the wake of a series of terrorist attacks including an attack on a French weekly magazine publisher, international society is renewing its resolve to prevent terrorism.


 Out of concern over the influence on deliberations of other bills, the administration has decided to shelve the bill, which we find questionable. We want Prime Minister Abe to reconsider and submit the bill to the ordinary Diet session for final approval.


 Criminalizing the act of conspiracy is aimed at making it a punishable crime when someone participates in the planning or preparation for a serious crime such as terrorist attack. This is expected to be effective in deterring terrorism.


 The conspiracy legislation came about in response to calls from international society. In the 2000 United Nations General Assembly, “the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” was adopted. The convention aims at preventing international organized crimes, such as terrorism and narcotics smuggling. As of January, 184 nations in total had entered into the convention.


 Japan’s ratification of the convention has been delayed because it has not yet criminalized the act of conspiracy, which is a requirement for the contracting states. A bill to revise relevant laws was submitted to the Diet sessions three times in the past, but they were scrapped by opposition parties who argued that the revision would violate human rights.


 Criminalizing the act of conspiracy differs from the concept of conventional criminal law because suspects can be charged before any crime has been committed. Sufficient deliberation on the pros and cons is needed.


 In criminalizing conspiracy, the government will attach strict conditions for the application of the law, such as realistic and concrete agreement in carrying out a crime or limiting it to serious crimes.


 Even if the world makes efforts to contain terrorism, if a particular country does not participate fully, it could become “a weak link” in the chain that international terrorist organizations will take advantage of.


 The government established a headquarters for cyber-security strategy on Jan. 9 to counter cyber-terrorism targeting the Tokyo Olympics. As the host nation of the Olympics, anti-terrorism is an important challenge for Japan. It makes sense for the Japanese police to raise the alarm by saying, “The threat of international terrorism is not somebody else’s problem.”


 The government is actively exchanging terrorism information with various countries. As Japan has been criticized for its delay in taking countermeasures to money-laundering used as a financial source for terrorist organizations, it passed a revised law on punishment for terrorism funding in November last year. Taking every possible measure to prevent terrorism is an urgent matter.

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