The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – the Japanese government’s ruling party – along with its coalition partner the New Komeito approved a bill on Tuesday that basically gives tougher penalties for those who leak confidential government information to the detriment of Japan’s national security. The bill now calls for a prison term of up to 10 years for leakers of “special secrets” concerning foreign and national policy.
The LDP, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and New Komeito, came to an agreement which will now allow the Cabinet to approve the bill on Friday for its passage through the Diet during the parliament’s current extra sessions that will last until Dec. 6. Abe spoke in front of the Diet session on Monday and said that confidentiality is “a prerequisite” for sharing intelligence with other countries and it is important to have the tougher secrecy law “to make full use of the National Security Council.” The Diet is deliberating another bill that will create a Japanese version of the National Security Council patterned after the United States’ organization. The NSC is designed to gather information and speed up decisions on foreign and national policy under the leadership of the prime minister’s office.
Initially, the bill to toughen Japan’s government secrecy had not taken into consideration the citizens’ right to know or freedom of the press. At the request of New Komeito, however, the government has decided to include provisions that give considerations to the right, as well as news-gathering activities. Still, concerns remain among legal experts that the legislation could discourage civil servants from talking to journalists and would thus infringe citizens’ right to know. They say that that the law would make it easier for the government to withhold information by labeling it a “special secret.” The bill now defines “special secrets” as information that any administrative agency chief would designate as affecting national security if leaked. Special secrets would remain so for up to 30 years and the duration could be extended if approved by the Cabinet.
[via Jiji Press]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan