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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 October 15 - 21  > Justice minister’s panel proposes ‘reform’ enabling police to bug citizens’ communications
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2014 October 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Justice minister’s panel proposes ‘reform’ enabling police to bug citizens’ communications

October 16, 2014
A proposal for the reform of the criminal justice system that the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the Justice Minister, made in September includes a revision of the wiretapping law that will enable the police to widely wiretap citizens’ communications, Akahata sounded the alarm.

The wiretapping law was forcibly enacted in 1999 by the ruling Liberal Democratic, Komei, and Liberal parties amid mounting criticism from the Japanese Communist Party and the general public that the law infringes on the privacy of communication guaranteed under Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution.

Under the existing law, wiretapping by the law enforcement authorities is permitted in the investigation of only four types of organized crimes, such as drug trafficking. The law also requires that wiretapping be observed by employees of electronic communications companies. Under the law, observers are allowed to express their opinions to the authorities and confirm whether only targeted wire communications are tapped or not.

The panel’s proposal for the law revision includes an increase in the number of crime types for authorized wiretapping and expansion of the wiretapping targets that are designated as “crime partners” by the investigation authorities. The panel also proposed to remove the provision requiring the telecom carrier’s presence at the time of eavesdropping from the law.

Recently, it came to light that the security police regularly gathered personal information on Muslims living in Japan under the guise of antiterrorism. If the law is revised, it will function to promote further illegal activities by the police.

Lawyer Kato Kenji of the Japan Lawyers’ Association for Freedom said that even citizens having nothing to do with any crime will possibly be targeted for wiretapping by the police if the law revision is implemented.
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