Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on Monday to assuage mounting public outrage over the newly-passed secrecy law, as more and more people believe that it will threaten the public’s right to know. Abe also said that controversial law is essential for Japan to share sensitive information with other countries to cope with security threats, where Japan has been lagging and that its top ally, the United States, does not want to share sensitive information to them because of it.
“There have been concerns throughout Diet deliberations that the law will broaden the scope of secrets without limits, deprive the public of its right to know and threaten people’s daily lives. I say here with certainty that these are not true at all,” Abe said at a press conference to mark the end of a 55-day Diet session through Sunday. “The law will boost the transparency of how state secrets should be dealt with, because we did not have rules on that,” Abe said. Abe reiterated that Japan needs to catch up with the international community on having clear rules on how state secrets are designated, kept under control and declassified.
Abe also acknowledged that he should have explained the issue to the public more in detail. In what may be seen as the backlash of the passing of the bill, a nationwide telephone survey conducted Sunday and Monday put out data that the support rate for Abe’s Cabinet fell below 50 percent for the first time since he took office. A recent survey by Japan’s Kyodo News shows that 82% of their respondents feel that there either needs to be revisions in the law or total abolition, as the secrecy law seeks to impose stricter punishments on those who will be convicted of sharing information that will be considered “state secrets.” 70.8 of those who were polled also said they were worried about the consequences of this law.