‘Minority Report’ becomes reality with new Japanese law

Abe said the bill will help combat terrorism.
Image: ROBICHON/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Minority Report came out 15 years ago but it’s now one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Thursday morning, Japanese lawmakers passed a bill that allows prosecutors to monitor and arrest terrorist groups or criminal organizations who are in the process of planning a crime, Bloomberg reported.

Did precrime just come to mind? The bill is eerily similar to the premise of Minority Report, the Tom Cruise film based on a Philip K Dick story about a police force with the ability to predict crimes before they happen. In the movie, crime is essentially eradicated because of the advancement.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the new bill an appropriate approach, and said it will help combat terrorism. The government says the bill is needed to ramp up security ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But there could be consequences to such legislation.

People can be arrested for planning 277 different crimes.

People can be arrested for planning 277 different crimes, including arson or even violating copyright laws, according to Bloomberg. And while the bill got support from legislators, critics say it could be a show of excessive surveillance, and that it could greatly affect civil liberties.

Joseph Cannataci, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to privacy harshly criticized the policy in a May letter to Abe. He said the bill could potentially “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression,” according to Reuters.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the letter inappropriate, and denied allegations that it would lead to excessive surveillance.

“It is not at all the case that the legislation would be implemented arbitrarily so as to inappropriately restrict the right to privacy and freedom of speech,” Suga said.

Voters are split over the law; 39.9 percent support it while 41.4 percent would prefer a less sci-fi future.

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