Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

bad news from japan on wiretapping

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 09 Aug 1999 11:38:57 -0400
From:          Barry Steinhardt <>
Subject:       bad news from japan on wiretapping

TOKYO, Aug. 9 (Kyodo) -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),
its junior coalition partner the Liberal Party (LP) and the New
Komeito party on Monday railroaded a set of bills paving the way for
using wiretaps to investigate organized crimes through the House of
Councillors committee on judicial affairs.
    The forced passage came amid confusion after the LDP had presented
urgent motion to suspend deliberation on the bills. The measures are
aimed against crimes involving drugs, guns, murder and the mass
smuggling of people into Japan.
    The forced passage of the bills is expected to delay voting in the
upper house's plenary session until at least Tuesday, political
sources said. The voting, originally scheduled for Monday, is needed
to turn the measures into law.
    Opponents of the bills -- the major opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social
Democratic Party (SDP) -- urged upper house President Juro Saito to
have the committee resume discussion on the legislation, calling the
bills' forced passage invalid.
    The parties plan to jointly propose a resolution urging the
of Kiyohiro Araki, chairman of the upper house committee and a New
Komeito member.
    But the proposal is expected to be voted down at the chamber's
session, enabling the wiretapping bills to clear the chamber and
become law, political sources said.
    The Justice Ministry says it expects the legislation to be a major
in the fight against organized crimes, such as those linked to the AUM
Shinrikyo religious cult and gun- and drug-related crimes involving
crime syndicates.
    However, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations argues that the
legislation could infringe constitutional provisions regarding the
secrecy of communications and protection of privacy.
    At the House of Representatives, the LDP, the LP and the New
jointly revised the original bills to limit wiretapping to the
investigation of drugs, guns, organized murder and large-scale human
    Under the bills' measures, law enforcement authorities would be
required to obtain warrants from regional courts to initiate
    They would also have to conduct wiretapping in the presence of
Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) employees and other third parties.
The people targeted in the operations would later have to be informed.
    Some legislators have expressed concern that police could abuse
wiretaps to gather information and that the safeguards regarding the
presence of witnesses and subsequent notification should be
    The bills also feature tougher penalties against organized crime
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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