Japan govt split on passing conspiracy bill

Japan govt split on passing conspiracy bill

The government is struggling to decide whether to push forward with the criminalization of the act of conspiracy, which has been stalled for years, with strong international pressure for such a move and reluctance at home.

It is still undecided on whether to submit a bill to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn to revise the law against organised crime to criminalize the act of conspiracy.

The move for submitting the bill reflects strong demand from the international community for the criminalization, as this move is needed for Japan to ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

But some members of the ruling parties are reluctant to submit the bill over concern that the legal change may drag down approval ratings for the Abe administration, adversely affecting local elections.

According to the bill, investigative authorities will be authorised to charge individuals when they have planned and are prepared to commit serious crimes.

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime has been ratified by 179 nations as of July. Only a small number of nations, including North Korea and Iran, have not joined the convention.

Japan passed a bill to approve the convention in 2003, supported by both ruling and opposition parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party.

The government faced stiff resistance on another bill to revise the law against organised crime however, even though it faithfully reflected the contents of the UN convention. Those who opposed the bill raised concerns about the extent of the organisations and crimes that would be targeted, stating that investigative authorities could abuse the new system.

The government submitted the bill on three occasions from 2003 to 2005, but the bill was scrapped each time.

The delay in passing the bill was criticised by the United States and European countries, which claimed Japan was not cooperating in building international networks against such crimes as terrorism and drug trafficking.

In June, the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body tasked with combating money laundering and other threats to the international financial system, released a statement calling on Japan to enact laws necessary to ratify the UN convention.

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