On May 23, former National Police Agency Director General Iwao Uruma, who was the top police bureaucrat responsible for counterterrorism policy for many years, hailed the passage by the House of Representatives of the amendments to the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes that will establish the crime of preparing to commit terrorist acts. “It is important to be able to crack down on terrorism at the preparations stage. The ability to exchange information with the signatories of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) will also be very effective.”
He pointed out, however, that even after the amendments are enacted “terrorist acts will not be easy to prevent. Investigation authorities need to be resourceful and innovative.”
Uruma said, “The world entered the era of terrorism at the start of the 21st century (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.). With the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to take place in 2020, the government’s determination to pass new legislation and change the legal elements constituting the crime of conspiracy is commendable.”
Determining the criminal nature of the organizations to be investigated is important in applying the law on the crime of preparing to commit terrorist acts.
Uruma observed: “Aum Shinrikyo was, in reality, a criminal organization, but it took time for us to confirm this. If we had had this law at that time, (incidents such as the Tokyo subway sarin attack and other incidents) could have been prevented.”
“Being able to sign the UNTOC after Japan makes the necessary legal amendments will also be very effective for counterterrorism,” he pointed out. “There will be greater cooperation in information exchange with other countries. Japan will be able to receive information not only on terrorist groups but also on crime syndicates, drug smugglers, and so forth, and this data can be used in investigations.”
Commenting on the criticism that even ordinary citizens could be subject to surveillance, Uruma remarked, “Ordinary citizens will not be watched unless they are members of criminal groups. The police won’t have time for that.” (Abridged)