Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Security cameras to be installed in 15 residential areas in Japan "

More interesting stuff from Japan Today:

Police will install a network of security cameras at 15 residential areas in 14 out of the country’s 47 prefectures as part of nationwide crime-prevention efforts, the National Police Agency said Thursday. The police will entrust volunteer groups of residents to operate and manage shooting equipment and image data, agency officials said. The police plan to launch the first such residential network in Japan around January next year, they said. Currently the police have 363 security cameras in operation at bustling shopping and entertainment urban districts across the country. It will also be the first time for the police to entrust such management duties to residents groups.

The National Police Agency, coordinator of the nation’s prefectural police forces, said the police will discuss the details of operating the network with volunteer groups. The police ‘‘will help residents to secure safety by themselves,’’ one agency official said. The police agency has already earmarked 597 million yen in the government’s supplementary budget for the installation of the security camera network and for the consultations with residents groups. According to the police agency’s plan, a set of 25 cameras each will be installed mainly on streets used by children going to school. The 15 locations include those in such prefectural capitals as Otsu, Okayama, Hiroshima, Tokushima and Fukuoka. The 10 other areas are in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture; Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture; Toda, Saitama Prefecture; Higashiyamato and Musashimurayama, both suburban Tokyo; Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture; Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture; Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture; Iwade, Wakayama Prefecture; and Amami, Kagoshima Prefecture. However, no residents groups have so far been picked to take charge of the security network in some of the 15 places. Some citizens groups are critical of the plan, saying that the government intends to strengthen surveillance on residents. The police have told residents groups that they will put up notices that indicate the locations of security cameras. They have also pledged to use data collected only for the investigation of crimes and that they will help protect citizens’ privacy. Under the plan, video monitors and recorders will be installed in non-police facilities, such as community centers, and residents groups will check screens when children are walking to and from school. Yasuhiko Tajima, professor of journalism at Sophia University who heads a citizens group against surveillance society, accuses the government of trying to have residents keep watch on each other through the planned installation of security cameras. The Musashimurayama municipal government in western Tokyo said a city official was called in to a nearby police station and was asked to join the security camera network plan on June 11. The city government said it has yet to decide on the location for the camera installation or on a residents group which will operate and manage the security camera network.

It seems problematic that the police/government to surveillance images, but now community groups? How will they be able to ensure privacy if such monitoring stations are located at community centers? Stay tuned to this one...


Anonymous said...

In general, this sounds about as ill-conceived and dumb as it can get. But if you think of specific locations, like around the dorms of a certain university, something like this almost makes sense... though I'm definitely not implying this would be the best way to solve that problem either.

Oh well, definitely staying tuned.

My name is Joe. said...

I wonder if they looked at the public opinion crises that afflicted the British government when they first started the CCTV program in the UK. I can see this becoming an unwitting accessory to neighborly pressure to conform to some sort of neighborhood standard of behavior/appearance. Surveillance of this caliber seems downright excessive for a country like Japan, but even so, I'd still feel better if it were a cop on the other side of the screen than the gossipy housewife who lives up the street.