Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 13, 2006

New antiterrorism legislation in Japan

Filed under: International HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 13, 2006

Yomiuri Shimbun analyses Japan’s current effort to write and pass into law a comprehensive antiterrorism bill in today’s edition:

Acts of terrorism range from attempts to assassinate VIPs to indiscriminate attacks on ordinary people, using explosives and biological and chemical weapons. Armed agents could raid important facilities. Whatever form it takes, terrorism can inflict great damage on people, facilities and others. It can even imperil a country’s national security.

But Japan has no comprehensive antiterrorism law. There is a limit to what can be achieved in containing threats posed by terrorism under the current legal system. The authorities deal with each unlawful act that could be deemed a terrorist attack under a law designed to handle a case of that nature.

The government is seeking to submit a fundamental antiterrorism bill to next year’s ordinary Diet session [in 2007]. It will be necessary for the government to ensure the bill is carefully designed to serve its purpose, while also convincing the public of the need to create such legislation.

The article and this related Reuters story list potential provisions in the bill, including:

– An institution to analyze and assess terrorist threats, similar in design to the National Counterterrorism Center in the United States;
– New standards for perimeter security for nuclear power installations;
– Enhanced police powers for interrogation of suspects and inspection of bags in places like subways;
– A clearer definition of national, state, local and private roles for counterterrorism and response;
– New provisions to freeze assets tied to terror.
– New restrictions on suspected domestic terrorist groups related to assembly and the acquisition of certain materials.

The Yomiuri Shimbun article argues that new wiretapping authorities should also be included within the scope of the bill.

There’s a long way to go on this legislation, but it’s a positive sign to see Japan stepping up and realizing the importance of a well-defined antiterrorism framework, both for its own security and for its ability to participate in broader international antiterrorism efforts.

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