Repeal, not amend
On May 26, three weeks before the end of the current Diet session, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito submitted to the House of Representatives a referendum bill providing for a Constitutional revision procedure, effectively preparing for the corruption of the Constitution of Japan. This is the first attempt of the kind since the emancipation of the Constitution. Concurrently, deliberation is under way on how to poison the Fundamental Law of Education, which would destroy public education and coercion of patriotism. In this atmosphere, working-level meetings are held among the ruling parties and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to discuss how they can compromise with some amendments in order to pass a bill for revising the Law for Punishment of Organized Crimes, Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Matters, which includes provisions to introduce conspiracy crime.
The conspiracy bill is a revival of the notorious public order law under which inner thoughts and ideas may be subject to punishment. If you have a conspiracy (that is, a talk) with somebody about any of the 600 or more crime categories subject to punishment of at least four-year long imprisonment if committed, all of the parties that have agreed to commit the crime would be punished even if no one has actually committed it. Under criminal law currently in effect, no investigation can be initiated unless a crime has been committed. The introduction of the conspiracy crime would enable the police to monitor civil activities and take an investigation according to their arbitrary judgment. To produce evidence of involvement in the "conspiracy," the authority would place all organizations under observation and scrutiny by means of tapping, spying by intruders, disclosure of communications history on the Internet, and many more means. Whatever revision is made, the bill would not become safe enough for us to swallow.
Demand of global capitalism
In the April 28 editorial, The Asahi Shimbun revealed its support for the DPJ's draft with a statement that goes, "while we admit the need for the introduction of the conspiracy crime, ... the bill should be re-submitted with revisions to narrow the scope of subject crime categories." Its reasoning is that the bill is part of the effort to update the domestic law system corresponding to the ratification of the 2000 Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. However, the Convention is not just focused on control of international mafia groups. It has been promoted for the sake of global capitalism, aimed at suppression of the rapidly spreading anti-war and anti-globalism struggles since the 1990's (struggles against neo-liberal policies driven by the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund as well as movements against the Iraq War).
Even if the target of the anti-conspiracy control is narrowed down to transnational organized crime as the DPJ or The Asahi Shimbun insists, still any civil movements and NGO activities would be subject to the suppression because all of those anti-Iraq War movements and activities for environmental conservation can threaten vested interests of global capitalism. Japan's security police agencies have already started preventive suppression. A typical example is the Tachikawa Tent Village flyer distribution clampdown incident. Persons distributing anti-Iraq War fliers in Self-Defense Forces (Japanese troops) housing quarters were arrested on the charge of house breaking to be detained for as long as 75 days. This outrageous suppression of freedom of expression is the forerunner of the introduction of conspiracy crime.
Counter with international solidarity
The current Diet session reveals how the Japanese government is rushing along the war-oriented course with the series of deliberations on the national referendum procedure bill, the corruption of the Fundamental Law of Education and the conspiracy bill.
The "new stage" mentioned in the May final agreement on the US-Japan alliance transformation and realignment points to a situation where US and Japanese troops are more deeply integrated so that troops can be dispatched whenever and wherever they want. The development of "people protection manuals" has advanced from the prefectural level to the municipal in pursuit of the establishment of war-cooperative communities. The National Police Agency has been organizing volunteer "crime-prevention" bodies, and now some 20,000 units of them are mobilized nationwide. The introduction of conspiracy crime would help these moves further develop.
However, these moves toward creation of war-oriented, police state in negation of human rights and democracy should never pass without resistance. Forcible passage of the conspiracy bill failed in the committee in the House of Representatives as the opposition grew among the public. Other bills are not likely to pass during this session, either. Make sure to repeal the conspiracy bill aimed at clampdown of international solidarity activities in tandem with the struggles for the withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq, for supporting Iraq Freedom Congress and for the Non-Defended Localities movement. (May 27)