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Gov't looks to halve number of crimes subject to 'conspiracy bill' to about 300

The government is considering halving the number of crimes that will be subject to a "conspiracy bill" to be submitted to the upcoming regular Diet session to about 300 from the originally envisioned 676, it has been learned.

The government is to narrow down the list of crimes to mainly those that could lead to terrorism, government sources said. The controversial legislation, a revised "Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds," is aimed at making it possible to penalize organized crimes even though they are still in the planning phase.

The government is considering reducing the number of crimes subject to the envisioned conspiracy bill out of consideration for Komeito, which has expressed concern over a large number of crimes that would be subject to the legislation. Therefore, attention will be focused on future discussions on the issue between Komeito and its coalition partner Liberal Democratic Party.

The government is aiming to conclude the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime that can be applied to deal with international organized crimes. In order to conclude the convention, Japan needs to work out a domestic law that can criminalize any agreements to commit grave crimes. Japan is the only country among Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized countries that has not concluded the U.N. convention.

The convention defines "serious crimes" committed by organized criminal groups that are subject to the convention as "conduct constituting an offence punishable by a maximum deprivation of liberty of at least four years or a more serious penalty." In the case of Japan, a total of 676 crimes such as statutory penalties of imprisonment of at least four years would be subject to the U.N. convention. Of the 676 crimes, the government is working on a plan to exclude from the list of crimes subject to the legislation those crimes that cannot be planned such as professional negligence resulting in death and bodily injury resulting in death.

Three earlier versions of the conspiracy bill were killed after opposition parties turned their back on the legislation, arguing that investigative authorities could infringe on human rights by stretching their interpretation of the legislation.

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