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Cablegate: Meeting with Mext to Discuss Proposed Bill On

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220518Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0873
INFO RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 9355
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000742

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PARM PREL
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH MEXT TO DISCUSS PROPOSED BILL ON
NUCLEAR TERRORISM


1. SUMMARY. On January 30, 2007, Embassy EST section met
with MEXT officials to glean additional information on the
Government of Japan (GOJ) plan to submit to the Diet a bill
intended to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism. The
bill is being introduced to the Diet to ratify the U.N.
International Convention for The Suppression of Acts of
Nuclear Terrorism, signed by Japan in 2005. During our
discussion, MEXT passed a written outline of the proposed
law, offered potential reasons why the Diet could reject or
delay the passage of the bill, and provided a justification
for the exclusion of Article 8 in the Convention. END
SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------------
Main Points of the Nuclear Terrorism Bill
-----------------------------------------

2. MEXT provided Embassy EST with a document highlighting the
key elements of the new law and Embassy Tokyo PAS/Translation
Services provided the translation below. In general terms,
the nuclear terrorism bill will call for an indefinite prison
sentence for acts of dispersing radioactive substances for
terrorist activity. (NOTE: An indefinite sentence, muki
choeki, means one must spend at least 10 years in custody
before they can be eligible for parole. After 10 years, a
judge determines the number of remaining years left in one's
sentence. However, according to a Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
official, approximately 60%-70% of parole requests are not
approved. In such cases, the criminal could remain in prison
until his or her death. Under Japan's penal code, there is no
life imprisonment but muki choeki does appear to be similar.
It is the most severe punishment available, second only to
the death penalty, which remains legal in Japan. In less
severe terrorist-related crimes, the judge can hand down a
definite sentence, yuuki choeki. This means that one can
spend a minimum of 2 years and up to a maximum of 20 years in
prison. Finally, the MOJ official concluded that no matter
the degree of cruelty, capital punishment is not an option in
nuclear terrorist-related proceedings. END NOTE.) Terrorist
activities include detonating nuclear bombs, scattering
radioactive material from the air, mixing radioactive
material with food, and flushing such material down the drain
to contaminate the environment.

BEGIN TEXT:

In order to properly secure facilities under the
International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of
Nuclear Terrorism, we are preparing the legislation that is
needed to punish such acts as causing a chain reaction of
atomic particles from nuclear-fuel materials that would
endanger people's lives, bodies, and property.

(Tentative Title) Outline of a law related to punishments for
crimes, etc., that would cause danger to the lives of people,
etc., due to the release of radioactivity.

1. Outline

Provisions will be prepared marking the following act
punishable by law:

(a) Releasing radioactivity that would endanger people's
lives, bodies, and property

(b) Endangering people's lives, bodies, and property by a
chain reaction of atomic particles from nuclear-fuel
materials (nuclear reactor)

(c) Preparatory acts leading to acts described in (a) and (b)

(d) Construction or possession of devices and the like that
would release radiation, or the possession of radioactive
material

(e) Attempts to carry out acts described in (a), (b), and (d)

(f) Other acts (Threatening to use or coercing use of
radioactive materials)

Steps leading up to the signing of the Convention:

The purposes of the Convention are to make such acts as the
possession and use of radioactive material or explosives,
nuclear devices, etc., crimes; and set punishments for such
criminals, and procedures for handing them over, etc.

February 1997: Negotiations began in the United Nations

TOKYO 00000742 002 OF 002


(Proposed by Russia)

April 2005: Adopted by the UN General Assembly

September 2005: Signing begins at the UN Summit Meeting
--Prime Minister Koizumi (at the time) signed together with
other G8 members. Over 100 countries have signed the
Convention.
--The Convention will go into effect when 22 countries have
ratified it (As of January 1, 2007, 11 countries had ratified
the pact.)

2. Date to go into effect

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of
Nuclear Terrorism sets the day it will go into effect in
Japan.

END TEXT

-------------------------------
Process for Submitting the Bill
-------------------------------

3. The nuclear terrorism bill is being drafted in
consultation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,
Science and Technology (MEXT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MOFA), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and the Cabinet Office
(CAO). After the draft is complete, the Cabinet Office will
issue a final approval and then submit it to the Diet
sometime in March. MEXT pointed out that the bill is likely
to pass but warned that unforeseeable domestic political
events, such as the summer elections, could possibly delay or
even reject the bill altogether. MEXT also mentioned that the
DPJ opposition party could try to stall the bill. However,
according to a DPJ staffer in charge of foreign/security
policy matters, Kenji Sasaki, there is no current move to
oppose the bill because the party is preoccupied with budget
problems and political scandals. Sasaki elaborated further
and stated that there is a chance that the party may decide
not to discuss the bill at all during the Diet session
because there are more urgent, pressing bills for DPJ to
consider.

----------------------
Exclusion of Article 8
----------------------

4. MEXT asserted that the nuclear terrorism bill is based on
the main points outlined in Article 2 of the Convention,
which specifically deal with penalizing terrorist-related
criminal offenses. The bill, however, does not tackle broader
nuclear security preventive measures addressed in Article 8.
MEXT stated that physical protection measures related to
nuclear facilities are already covered in its Nuclear Reactor
Regulation Law and are generally consistent with IAEA's
INFCIRC/225/Rev.4 recommendations. (NOTE: So far, Japan has
not incorporated into its national legislation two key
elements proposed in the INFCIRC/225/Rev.4. namely, the
posting of armed guards and conducting of full background
checks. Because Japanese law prohibits posting armed guards
at Japanese nuclear facilities, round-the-clock armed
security is provided by the Riot Police Unit (anti-firearms
squad) and by Japan Coast Guard patrol boats. Customs is also
playing a role by actively installing sophisticated equipment
to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials. Regarding
background checks on employees with access to nuclear
materials/facilities, Japan's privacy act restricts nuclear
facilities to conduct such investigations. There are on-going
discussions within the GOJ concerning the feasibility of
adopting and executing background checks. However, an
official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, stated
that the implementation of such measures will be extremely
difficult given Japan's rigid legal system and lengthy
interagency coordination. END NOTE.)
SCHIEFFER

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