Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Japanese Wiretapping Proposal Draws More Opposition

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Date:          Thu, 05 Aug 1999 11:50:09 -0400
From:          Barry Steinhardt <>
Subject:       Japanese Wiretapping Proposal Draws More Opposition

TOKYO, JAPAN, 1999 AUG 4 (Newsbytes) -- By Martyn Williams, Newsbytes.
A package of bills that will give police the power to use wiretaps in
their investigation of certain types of crimes got their first public
hearing today as opinion polls showed they are becoming increasingly
unpopular with the public. The revisions to the Criminal Justice Bill
are designed to help the police better battle organized crime however
the majority of the Japanese public believe restrictions on their use
outside of such crimes will prove ineffective. At the hearing today,
Upper House judiciary committee members heard from two leading
commentators and a lawyer. Of the three, two supported the revisions
calling them necessary to halt the rise of international and organized
crime gangs. Commentator Makoto Sataka opposed the bills saying they
would lead to an emphasis on investigations regarding public security
rather than crime. The public hearing comes a day after the Justice
Ministry pledged telephone lines used by the news media would be
exempt from wiretapping although failed to commit the promise to
actual bill. The ministry said the freedom of the press should not be
compromised by such wiretaps although said it reserved the right to
tap media lines in extreme circumstances, such as if a reporter was
suspected of committing a crime. The concession comes several weeks
after the transcript of a conversation between a lawmaker and TV Asahi
journalist was sent to several media organizations by an anonymous
mailer who claimed to be a police officer. The letter explained the
call was tapped as part of a police test into wiretapping technology.
Meanwhile, opposition to the revisions is growing according to an
opinion poll taken over the weekend by the TBS television network. The
telephone poll among 1,200 people found support for the revisions was
at 39.6 percent, down 4 points from a month earlier. Opposition was at
50.1 percent, up seven points on the month. Pessimism regarding
restrictions on the use of wiretaps to investigations on certain types
of crimes was high with 66.0 percent of people believing the
restrictions would be ineffective and only 22.9 percent of people
saying they would keep use to the defined crimes. The revisions will
allow for the use of wiretapping in the course of investigations into
four main types of crime: illegal drugs, cases involving weapons,
organized group illegal entry into Japan, and organized murders.
Reported By,
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(19990804/WIRES ASIA, LEGAL, TELECOM/) Copyright 1999

Barry Steinhardt
Associate Director
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street
New York,NY 10004
212 549 -2508 (v) 212 549-2656 (f)

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