NPA to bulk up, target gangs
Source: The Asahi Shimbun
Date: August 27, 2003
10,000 officers will be added to help restore public safety.
The National Police Agency, dogged by rising crime and a dwindling arrest rate, will add 10,000 officers to its force to crack down on terrorism, organized crime and foreign lawbreakers.
The NPA's emergency package of anti-crime measures, made public Tuesday, includes a new department to fight gangsters and the deployment of more officers to koban police boxes to tackle street crimes such as bag-snatching and trespassing, officials said.
The number of law enforcement officers will jump by 10,000 from fiscal 2004 to 2006, which comes on top of a similar ongoing increase from fiscal 2002 to 2004.
With the addition of 20,000 officers over the five years, the nation's police force will total 253,000 in fiscal 2006.
The security package represents the first major reorganization since 1994. It was put together after the number of criminal cases hit about 2.85 million in 2002, a postwar high for the seventh consecutive year.
At the same time, the rate of arrests and other crackdown measures has decreased.
The NPA has designated this year the start of a three-year campaign to recover public safety.
As an anti-terrorism measure, the NPA will set up a special task force on international terrorism, bringing together specialists on explosives and hostage negotiations.
It will also reorganize its sections next fiscal year so one unified entity will deal with yakuza gangsters, foreign criminals and gun and drug control.
Under the current system, the criminal investigation bureau is in charge of gang affairs, the international department deals with crimes by foreign nationals in Japan and the community safety bureau is assigned to control firearms and illegal drugs.
The reorganization will exclude Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department and forces in some other urban areas that already have special task forces to fight organized crime, according to NPA officials.
The NPA will also set up a section to deal with cyber crime.
Other steps in the package call for an increase in street lights that allow the public to make emergency calls to police, revisions of an anti-gang law to hold yakuza leaders accountable for the actions of their minions, and an increase in detention facilities.
Original article at: http://www.asahi.com/english
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