5. Safety and Security
1. Upgrading consumer administration and policies, including disclosure of risk information
Since its founding, the Democratic Party of Japan has committed itself to representing the 窶彡itizen,窶 the 窶徼axpayer窶 and the 窶彡onsumer.窶 We have always worked to achieve our policy objectives from the perspective of the consumer. In recent years, there have been dynamic developments in the process of the diversification and globalization of services, which has resulted in a sharp increase in consumer-related disputes. It is undeniable that major disparities in access to information and bargaining power exist between consumers and enterprises. The Consumer Contract Act was revised in 2006 to create a 窶彡onsumer class action lawsuit system窶 enabling consumer organizations to file suits on behalf of individual consumers. The Democratic Party of Japan was instrumental in making a number of revisions, including extending the scope of adjudicating courts to include courts located in the place of violation.
The Consumer Product Safety Law was revised in 2006, obligating enterprises to report serious accidents pertaining to consumer products. The Democratic Party of Japan has already submitted the 窶廝ill for the Disclosure of Risk Information,窶 which gives more weight to the position of the consumer, extending mandatory reporting of serious accidents to all products and commodities that may cause injury to consumers, including automobiles, revolving doors and playground equipment. Continued efforts will be made for the enactment of this bill.
Many cases are being reported of consumers falling into dire straits due to credit purchases and loans from consumer financing institutions that exceed the consumer窶冱 ability for repayment. The Democratic Party of Japan will act to counter problems related to unethical door-to-door sales and excessive extension of credit. We will also promote policies aimed at furthering consumer education in such areas as consumer contracts and credit card usage.ﾂ?
2. Ensuring the safety of transportation and homes
Serious accidents and breakdowns are frequently occurring in public transportation, including railways, airlines, buses and taxis. These accidents have left many victims in various parts of Japan. Among these are the 2005 train derailment accident that occurred on the JR Fukuchiyama Line taking 107 lives, and passenger airlines crash landings. The Democratic Party of Japan will fundamentally alter transportation policies that overemphase deregulation, intensify competition, neglect safety and create severe working conditions in the pursuit of profit. Accidents and breakdowns that occur will be investigated from a fair and impartial position, and the lessons learned will be put to effective use in preventing the recurrence of accidents. In this regard, the following course of action will be taken: (1) transportation safety regulations will be made more stringent, including regulations concerning labour conditions; (2) surveillance and inspection systems will be developed to ensure full compliance with such social regulations; and, (3) a 窶弋ransportation Safety Commission窶 will be created to investigate accidents and breakdowns and to issue related recommendations. The functions of the 窶弋ransportation Safety Commission窶 will consist of the following: surveillance of operations and working conditions; investigation of accidents and breakdowns and the issuance of related recommendations; providing support and relief to victims; accumulation of data and experiences and formulation of accident-prevention measures based on them. Its jurisdiction will extend to railways, airlines, buses, taxis and vessels (transportation businesses that transport passengers and cargo in exchange for fare).
In cases involving falsification of earthquake-resistant building specifications, new violations continue to be uncovered and have become a serious cause of public concern and insecurity. To prevent recurrences and to provide relief to victims, the Democratic Party of Japan has submitted a bill that includes the following provisions: (1) final inspection and confirmation of newly constructed buildings must be conducted by the government; (2) the names of all persons involved in the construction of a building must be disclosed; and, (3) advertising and marketing materials must indicate whether the building is insured. Furthermore, actions will be taken to rid the housing industry of unethical and dishonest businesses, including countermeasures to be taken against fraudulent home remodelling.
3. Rapid response to natural disasters
The following actions will be taken to facilitate emergency response, information transmission, traffic regulation and emergency recovery in the event of natural disasters. The government窶冱 crisis management systems will be strengthened through such measures as the development of information transmission systems and a cooperative framework defining the individual tasks and responsibilities of the central and local governments, police and firefighting authorities, the Self-Defense Forces, private companies, volunteers, NPOs and other organizations in case of a natural disaster. Additionally, powerful support will be provided to various activities of the private sector. The strengthening of backup systems for urban functions in case of large-scale disasters will be considered. To ensure rapid response to large-scale disasters, the powers of the prime minister will be augmented and the 窶廚risis Management Agency窶 (Japanese version of FEMA) will be mobilized.
Recovery of lifelines and infrastructure is essential in helping victims recover as soon as possible from physical and emotional damages suffered. The Act Concerning Support for Reconstructing Livelihoods of Disaster Victims will be revised to provide assistance payments for the main dwelling, to increase the maximum assistance payments, and to ease eligibility conditions.
Various parts of Japan are exposed to the threat of major earthquakes. In particular we will promote measues to ensure that public elementary and junior high schools, which serve as evacuation centres in the event of a disaster, meet anti-earthquake standards. Extreme levels of destruction can be anticipated in densely populated major cities where fires and collapsing buildings will raise the scale of damage. To reduce the threat of such damage, the refitting of existing buildings that do not meet anti-earthquake requirements will be promoted.
4. Ensuring public safety and crime prevention, and promoting comprehensive measures for prevention of crimes involving guns
An increasing percentage of crimes in Japan are remaining unsolved. To cope with this problem, local police forces will be bolstered, and police functions related to 窶彡ommunity, crime and public safety窶 will be expanded. Assistance will be provided to strengthen the crime-prevention functions of local communities. To ensure 窶徘ublic safety and crime prevention,窶 the investigating capabilities of police authorities must be improved, including the introduction of new investigative methods. On other hand, it is feared that the unprincipled expansion of police powers may lead to the abuse of investigate powers and the infringement of privacy. By generating a lack of public trust and cooperation with police investigations, these sentiments can ultimately have a negative impact on public safety. When introducing new investigative methods, due attention will be paid to human rights and clear rules will be established to prevent activities that counter the true aims of civil society. The issue of crime-preventing monitor cameras, N-systems (automatic reading devices for automobile license numbers) and the use of DNA in investigations will be carefully examined from the perspective of personal information protection, including the enactment of laws on their installation and operation.
Serious crimes involving the use of guns are increasing, including a hostage-taking incident in Aichi Prefecture and the shooting death of the mayor of Nagasaki. Comprehensive measures will be mounted to counter crimes involving the use of guns. To act against illegal possession of firearms and their use in crimes that pose a threat to Japan窶冱 peaceful living environment, members and persons related to organized crime will be subjected to rigorous arrest and indictment policies. Additionally, border measures will be bolstered to prevent the smuggling of guns. Procedures for licensing and possession of firearms used for hunting and competitive sports will be reviewed.
5. Preventing false charges through video recording of interrogations
The criminal justice system will be reformed for increased fairness and transparency. As part of these reforms, measures will be taken to prevent forced confessions under interrogation and the filing of false charges. The Democratic Party of Japan has submitted the 窶廝ill Concerning the Revision of Code of Criminal Procedure窶 mandating that interrogation processes be made visible through such means as video recording and establishing the right of counsel during interrogation. Continued efforts will be made to enact this bill. Laws will also be enacted for thorough disclosure of evidence in criminal court cases.
6. Establishment of Human Rights Violations Relief Agency
The Democratic Party of Japan previously submitted the 窶廝ill Concerning Prevention and Relief of Human Rights Violations.窶 However, deliberations on this bill have been stalled because of the government窶冱 refusal to submit the 窶廝ill for the Protection of Human Rights.窶 The main features of the bill submitted by the Democratic Party of Japan are the following: the establishment of a Central Human Rights Commission as an extra-ministerial agency of the Cabinet Office; the establishment of Local Human Rights Commissions in all prefectures; the specification of intermediation and arbitration procedures in human rights violation cases; and, the exclusion of media organizations from the application of special relief procedures. Continued efforts will be made for the enactment of this bill.
7. Opposing the introduction of the crime of conspiracy
In preparation for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the government has submitted a bill to the Diet for establishing acts of conspiracy as a punishable crime. The crime of conspiracy is intended to punish persons who have conspired to commit crimes in connection with the activities of an organization. However, this revision threatens to completely overturn Japan窶冱 criminal justice system for the following reasons. Mere discussion of a criminal act constitutes a crime even if no preparations and no actions have been initiated to commit the crime. Conspiracy charges may be attached to a total of 619 crimes, many of which are crimes with no international implication or not even categorized as serious crimes. In reality, the Convention goes no further than to require its signatories to 窶徼ake the necessary measures 窶ｦ in accordance with fundamental principles of its domestic law.窶 Moreover, almost all of the serious crimes specified in the Convention are already defined as punishable crimes under the provisions against preliminary acts, preparatory acts, aiding and abetting, and acting as co-principal in the crime of conspiracy contained in existing Japanese laws. It can be concluded that Japan can ratify the Convention without enacting any new legislation whatsoever. Therefore, the Democratic Party of Japan strongly opposes the enactment of the government bill.