Urgent Appeal against Japan's secret-protection legislation

APC member Japan Computer Access for Empowerment (JCAFE) and JCA-NET is calling the international community to campaign against the State Secret Protection Bill, which Japan's ruling party is promoting and is planning on passing it by December 6.

The ruling bloc of Japanese Diet railroaded a highly controversial State Secrets Protection Bill through the House of Representatives on the evening of Nov. 26 -- just one day after voicing strong opposition to the legislation at the only one public hearing. All of the seven local residents who were invited to state their opinions voiced opposition to or concerns about the government-sponsored secrecy bill in the hearing held in Fukushima. According to the result of a government-sponsored "public comment" process in September, 77 percent of about 90,000 comments opposed the bill, most of them expressing concerns about the possibility of their civil activities being curtailed.

The bill is far from the Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information (Tshwane Principles). As the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, pointed out, "most democracies, including Japan, clearly recognise the right to access information. As much as the protection of national security might require confidentiality in exceptional circumstances, human rights standards establish that the principle of maximum disclosure must always guide the conduct of public officials." We think that the bill is very dangerous, and it may destroy democracy in Japan. The situation is worryingly similar to the time when the Military Secrets Act was established and revised many times before the World War II, and the Act paved the way to what they call the Greater East Asia War which Japanese army invaded many countries in Asia.

We think the law is problematic because:

- The scope of “specific secrets” is broad and vague, and how exactly “specific secret” will be designated remains unclear. Especially, there is no regulation which forbids specification of the disadvantageous information for the government.
- The government can permanently designate any information it wants to hide from the public as specific secrets.
- Any independent third-party bodies will not established that have the power to screen information to determine whether it merits being classified as a specific secret. Even the Diet or courts can not check.
- The bill includes serious threats to whistle-blowers and even journalists reporting on secrets. Government officials who, in good faith, release confidential information on violations of the law, or wrongdoing by public bodies, should be protected against legal sanctions.
- Anyone who asks central government employees to offer specific secrets could be subject to punishment on the grounds that they abetted the leakage of secrets. This withers too much the coverage act by all the press containing community media, independent media, and foreign media with the intimidation by punishments.
- The "aptitude evaluation system" is a privacy infringement not only to public servants and the private citizens that have accepted commissions for government contracts but also to their families, friends, and even their romantic partners.

We call upon all members of the House of Councilors to scrap the bill.

If you or your organization endorse, would you kindly go to the petition page ?