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Gov't looks to file 'anti-conspiracy bill' ahead of Olympics

The government is poised to submit an anti-conspiracy bill to the regular Diet session that begins on Jan. 20 to strengthen anti-organized crime and counterterrorism measures, citing preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The bill would revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds to allow the punishment of organized crime when it is still in the planning stages. In the past, opposition parties have protested that this kind of bill could be broadly interpreted by investigators and lead to human rights violations, and conspiracy count bills have failed to pass three times in the past. For the new bill, there are strong reservations within Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and there may be changes made to the bill before it is submitted.

According to a government insider source, the new conspiracy charge the bill would add would be applicable to organized crime groups aiming to commit a crime that carries at least a four-year prison sentence. The bill aims to target terrorist organizations, yakuza, drug smugglers and bank transfer scam groups.

The conditions for being charged with the crime are that a specific and realistic crime is planned as a group, and that the groups have conducted activities in preparation, such as collecting money to buy weapons or checking on the target location.

To deal with groups like terrorists or the mafia, in 2000 the U.N. General Assembly voted to pass the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which went into effect in 2003. Currently 187 countries and territories have signed the convention, and among the Group of Seven countries only Japan hasn't. To sign the convention, it is necessary for the country's law to include conspiracy as a crime.

The treaty defines the crimes that qualify as conspiracy acts as ones "for which a long-term removal of freedom of four years or more is possible," and this is why the same qualification is to be required in the Japanese law. There are 676 types of crimes, including murder and fraud, under Japanese law that meet this requirement.

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