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Statement Opposing Mandatory Installation of Security Cameras Inside Trains

In December 2021, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) held an Expert Council meeting to discuss technical criteria for “security cameras” on the premise that the government will make it mandatory for railway companies to have security cameras installed inside of newly introduced train cars. This is a measure to prevent the recurrence of a similar case to a stabbing and arson that occurred on the Keio Line in October of the same year.

It is said that, in the Keio Line case, the railway company failed to assess the situation quickly during the incident due to lack of security cameras. The MLIT has determined that it is necessary to be able to quickly assess the situation inside of train cars in order to minimize harm, and says that they intend to amend the relevant Ordinance of the MLIT in the next fiscal year to include criteria on where to install “security cameras,” etc.

However, this will inevitably infringe on the portrait right of a large number of unspecified innocent citizens. For this reason, the installation of “security cameras” at least requires an expectation that the cameras will have a concrete preventive effect (effectiveness of crime prevention), in addition to a considerable degree of probability that crimes, etc. will occur at the location of the installation. Having said that, effectively preventing people from carrying dangerous objects on a train can’t be expected without implementing security measures to the same level as those implemented prior to boarding an airplane. Also, “security cameras” are not effective in preventing crimes like the one that occurred on the Keio Line which was committed by a desperate perpetrator who had an intention to commit suicide and take people around him with him, or other crimes committed by those who are not afraid to be arrested or prosecuted. The MLIT hasn’t mentioned the effectiveness of security cameras in preventing crimes. This can be construed as them finding it difficult. If that is the case, the need to install security cameras doesn’t exist. Should security cameras be installed for the purpose of limiting the extent of harm, other means such as posting security guards would have a lower degree of infringing human rights and can be expected to have more effectiveness. If that is the case, then the need to install “security cameras” doesn’t exist either.

To prevent crimes, the correction of disparities in society and measures to deal with isolation are required to begin with. Simply mandating the installation of “security cameras” could lead to a problem of only expanding the infrastructure that enables surveillance in society.

Moreover, if the government implements such an unreasonable policy which, for example, puts railways such bullet trains which keep moving with passengers locked inside the cars for a long time without making stops and rural railways operating one car trains for not many passengers with no past incidents of bodily injury or murder in the same category, mandating all of them to install “security cameras,” it will put an excessive burden on public transportation in rural areas.

Also, in line with JFBA’s opinion paper on security cameras, entitled “Opinion on the Statutory Regulations governing/regarding the Installation and Operation of Video Surveillance Devices” dated January 19, 2012, we call on the government to enact an adequate law on the installation and operation of “security cameras” as soon as possible and comply with such rules to protect the right to privacy of citizens.

For the reasons above, we strongly oppose the mandatory installment of “security cameras” inside of train cars without giving careful consideration to their purpose and means or setting legal rules on their installation and operation.

March 22, 2022
Japan Federation of Bar Associations

President Tadashi Ara

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