JIN-310 -- Dirty Junichiro--The PM Gets Tough on Crime

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T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R

Commentary on the Week's Business, Technology and Cultural News

Issue No. 310
Tuesday February 26, 2005 TOKYO

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CONTENTS

@@ VIEWPOINT: Dirty Junichiro--The PM Gets Tough on Crime

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@@ VIEWPOINT: Dirty Junichiro--The PM Gets Tough on Crime

Junichiro Koizumi is a politician who does not hesitate to
fulfill a nationalist agenda. Witness his annual pilgrimages
to Yasukuni Shrine in the teeth of ritual condemnation by
China and Korea. And his dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces
to Iraq can be viewed as another step toward an expansion of
their role to where war-renouncing Article 9 of the
Constitution, even if not rescinded, is rendered irrelevant.

Nationalist politicians usually favor muscle at home as well as
abroad. Koizumi is no exception. In response to a spate of
violent crimes, he is beating the drum for tough action.

In a policy speech the PM called for "the revival of Japan as
the world's safest country." What's more, in rapid-fire manner
he has personally suggested crime-busting measures with an
intensity that has aides talking. More surprisingly, government
ministries and agencies are rushing to implement measures, some
of which are of questionable effectiveness. Following is a
round-up of recent crimes, Koizumi's reaction, and government
measures.

On the 19th of this month a man caused a traffic accident
in Minato Ward, Tokyo. When a cop approached, the man attacked
him with a sticklike object. The cop fled.

"Unbelievable!" exclaimed Koizumi during a press conference
at the Office of the Prime Minister on the evening of the 22nd.
"Why did he flee? I want [the police] to undergo vigorous
regular training and to be prepared such that they don't act
shamefully."

In January a man kidnapped a first-grader returning home
from school and murdered her in his apartment. Following
his arrest, it was disclosed that he had previously served
time for a sex crime. Commented the PM: "Until now we have
stressed the rights of the assailant and made light of the
victim's rights." Regarding the whereabouts of sex offenders
following their release from prison, Koizumi added, "At the
very least the police should keep tabs on the perpetrators
of such crimes."

On this same subject the Minister of Justice, Chieko Nohno,
had previously remarked, "That [informing the police of the
addresses of convicted sex offenders] is difficult from
the standpoint of protection of privacy and rehabilitation
into society." Her statement disclosed that on this question
the government is not of a single mind. However, following
Koizumi's comment the Ministry of Justice decided to provide
the police with information about sex offenders released
from prison.

Then this month a man on parole killed an infant in a stroller
in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture. "The Ministry of Justice and the
National Police Agency must work together," said the PM
regarding the murder. The criminal was not a sex offender.
Therefore, the Prime Minister was suggesting an expansion of
the provision of information to include the addresses of
ex-convicts and parolees guilty of other types of crimes.
The next day the concerned ministries and agencies met and
decided to enlarge the scope of the provision of information.

More recently a 17-year-old youth stabbed to death a teacher
at an elementary school in Neyagawa City, Osaka Prefecture.
"It is difficult with bear hands to take on someone armed with
a knife," said the PM apropos of the incident. "I'm not
suggesting wooden swords, but [teachers] had better consider
self-defense measures. Training is also important. [They]
should have something [for defense]."

Shortly after the PM's remarks schools implemented anticrime
training. Some adopted the "sasumata," a two-pronged pole
for pinning an attacker -- a weapon most familiar to the
public through samurai dramas on television.

Officials in the Office of the Prime Minister give high marks
to this method of policy implementation wherein the PM speaks,
and the Cabinet Secretariat coordinates policy, since action
is speedier than when policymaking is left to the ministries.

But there is also some grumbling. Certain bureaucrats question
the practicality of the police keeping an eye on ex-cons long
after their release. Others pity the poor cop who turned
tail and ran.

This approach has worked for Koizumi because a wide swath of
the public feel their long-cherished public security is eroding
under globalization. Koizumi has struck a chord, and his
Cabinet is acting with dispatch. He must wish the
privatization of the Postal Service were as easy.

-- Burritt Sabin

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EDITOR
Written and edited by Burritt Sabin (editors2@japaninc.com)

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