NPA to address e-mails as part of antistalking law

The antistalking law, which came into effect in 2000, has many ineffective parts that no longer match reality, including its failure to regulate the act of sending a massive number of e-mails to victims.

Amid an ever-increasing number of stalking cases, delayed actions by law enforcement authorities have often resulted in tragic consequences.

The National Police Agency has instructed local police authorities nationwide to proactively establish cases against alleged stalkers. It also started asking investigators whether they have noticed any loopholes or problems in the antistalking law, which has not been revised since its inception in November 2000.

A 52-year-old man in Hyogo Prefecture began receiving daily e-mails from his former girlfriend around August last year.

The woman, 45, sent such messages as “I’m agonized and I feel so frustrated” and “Please call me.”

However, the antistalking law does not address the act of sending a massive amount of e-mails. Though the man received nearly 100 e-mails from the woman, all the Hyogo prefectural police could do was give her verbal warnings.

In the meantime, the man kept telling the police about his anxiety, saying the woman might come uninvited to his house.

The police at last managed to arrest her for allegedly violating the antistalking law in December, after confirming that she continuously called him on his mobile phone.

The antistalking law bans forcing somebody to date or meet, as well as repeatedly telephoning or faxing someone, but it contains no provisions for harassment or stalking via e-mail. However, there are many cases in which e-mails with trivial messages or blank e-mails are sent in large volume, putting pressure on victims.

Wary of the discrepancy between the law and reality, the NPA started soliciting opinions from prefectural police around the country in late March.

Some pointed to the need to ban sending a large number of e-mails, strengthen penalties and establish a system to protect the relatives of stalked victims.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 8, 2012
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