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2013年5月23日 (木)

暴力団追放訴訟 住民の勇気と安全守ってこそ

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 23, 2013
Safety of residents must take top priority in proxy litigation system targeting gangs
暴力団追放訴訟 住民の勇気と安全守ってこそ(5月22日付・読売社説)

The proxy litigation system, a measure that was introduced as part of efforts to purge organized crime syndicates from this country, should be put to effective use.

The system envisions that individual prefectural locations of the National Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan, a public foundation tasked with leading an antigang drive, will file lawsuits on behalf of troubled residents to seek an injunction to prohibit gangs from using offices in their neighborhood.

This spring, the National Public Safety Commission authorized two of the centers, in Kanagawa and Fukuoka prefectures, to file lawsuits in lieu of residents, bringing the number of centers sanctioned to serve as proxies to seven. The other centers are in Tokyo and Saitama, Tokushima, Oita and Saga prefectures.

The proxy litigation system was established in January when the revised Antigang Law took effect. The antigang centers--which provide counseling to residents who have been victims of illegal gang activity such as demanding money for doing business in their “domains” and intimidating debt-collection practices--are now qualified to serve as plaintiffs in place of residents, pending approval from the National Public Safety Commission.

Reduced burden for residents

When residents turn to this system, their burdens of having to negotiate with lawyers and going through legal procedures should be considerably reduced. Litigation costs, said to be at least 3 million yen, will be mostly, if not entirely, covered by each center.

Many of the centers, however, have not applied to the commission for authorization, citing a lack of funding from corporate donations--their main source of operating funds--due to a prolonged economic slump. More than half of the 40 unauthorized centers are not expected to submit an application to the commission this fiscal year.

It may be advisable for local governments to consider using taxpayer money to support centers in tough financial situations. A case in point is the city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, that has shouldered part of the cost of a lawsuit seeking an injunction to halt the use of an office by gangsters who were engaged in a gang war.

There have been 24 lawsuits filed by residents seeking an injunction to ban gangs from using an office in their neighborhood. In most cases, the plaintiffs won. In one case, gangs stopped making unjust demands just after a lawsuit was filed. Such litigation can thus be an effective way to weaken organized crime syndicates.

With the public foundations serving as proxies, the number of such lawsuits is expected to increase. We hope the drive to eliminate gangs will gain momentum.

Protection from reprisal

However, there is a worrisome aspect to the new system: Even though the litigation is done by proxy, a list of residents’ names must be revealed in the lawsuits. This is because the plaintiff must present specific evidence of residents’ mental anguish brought by the existence of a gang office.

In the previous cases, hundreds of plaintiffs’ names and addresses were attached to a complaint submitted to court. Those involved should find a way to minimize the number of residents’ names made public in lawsuits. If they can do this, the police will be able to effectively put residents under their guard.

Any harm to residents would shake the system from its foundation. Police must do everything they can to contain any retaliation against residents by organized crime syndicates.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 22, 2013)
(2013年5月22日01時31分  読売新聞)


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