The House of Representatives passed bills to allow police to wiretap more extensively, to introduce plea bargaining into the Criminal Procedure Code, which may provide a hotbed to cause wrong charges, and to amend other laws after making rectifications. Reportedly, the bills are likely to be enacted in the current session. The situation is regretful, but the bills have not yet been finalized to be laws. Do not give up! Let’s continue struggling to scrap the bills.
LET’S KEEP STRUGGLING TO SCRAP BILLS EVEN AFTER LOWER HOUSE PASSED THEM!
The bills in question constitute part of the Abe government’s scheme to lead the nation to a belligerent state. People have objected the bills on account that they will destroy people’s rights and democracy, demanding the Diet to withdraw them from the debates. The Secrecy Protection Act prohibits civilians from disclosing confidential information of the state, while these bills allow the state’s institutions to put people under stricter control.
Police Authority will be Empowered
The on-going ‘reform’ in the criminal and judicial system comes from a false charge against an official of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Visualization of the police interrogation process will be applied to those cases to be put on the lay judge system, or citizen judge system, but they occupy only 3% of all the penal offenses. In lieu of the tiny modification the police authority could enjoy stronger command. The amendments are to empower the police authority.
Revision of the Wiretapping Act means liberalization of eaves dropping by the police authority. In 1999 the ordinary session of the Diet approved a series of illicit laws, including the National Flag and Anthem Act, Residents’ Registration Networking Act and the Wiretapping Act.
People objected at that time harshly a wiretap as it infringes the constitutional freedom for speech, expression and publishing as well as the right of secrecy in communications. Under the circumstances the government parties were obliged to make corrections: to limit charges to drug, organizational homicide, guns and human trafficking and to permit police to survey communications only at the offices of communication entities under the presence of a third person.
However, this time the bills favors police: it can intercept suspects of general crimes, including theft and injury, and tap at their own stations in the presence of officers not in charge of the case under investigation.
Wiretapping on suspects of ‘child pornography’ is inserted smartly so that the authority can easily identify those who may ‘produce, possess, transport, provide and exhibit’ porno pieces. Definition of ‘child pornography’ is ambiguous and experts concern that freedom of speech, expression and publishing may be violated in the name of regulating child pornography.
Amendments of Trifling Details
As for plea bargaining, several rectifications were made by way of meetings attended by members of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Ishin-no-To, who are opponents, as well as of the ruling parties: for instance, such bargaining is excluded as not related to the suspect in question. But recording and preserving consultation process remain inaccurate as only ‘administrative procedures’ are set forth. Trifling matters were modified, which is far from a significant change of the bill. The opposition DPJ and the Ishin-no-To finally agreed. Their stance and responsibility are grave and should be criticized.
Responsibility of Federation of Bar Associations
The leadership of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations is to blame, too. It is because the executive body was allured by partial introduction of visualization of police interrogation process and admitted the broad tapping and plea bargaining that may undermine the judicial system. The government’s proposals were submitted into a set of bills and the current session is likely to pass them. Almost a half of the provincial bar associations adopted a resolution to oppose the leadership’s decision and the federation is in fact split to two. The executive body led by President Murakoshi Susumu is mistaken.
August 25, 2015