Despite several delaying tactics by the opposition parties, the ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito were able to railroad Japan’s Upper House into voting for the state secrets bill late Friday night. The bill received 130 votes for and 82 against, therefore passing it to finally become a law, despite strenuous objection from several sectors of society and demonstrations outside the Diet building to protest the violation of the people’s right to know and press freedom.
The opposition parties Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the People’s Life Party voted against the bill while Your Party and the Japan Restoration Party (JRP) abstained. But they did not stand a chance against the ruling coalition’s insistence on passing the bill after the lower house last week voted to pass it through. Earlier that day, the DPJ submitted several motions in order to delay the voting, including a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s Cabinet and censure motions against Masako Mori, the minister in charge of getting the bill through the Diet, and Masaharu Nakagawa, chairman of the upper house special committee on national security. The ruling bloc also voted to extend the Diet session for two more days until Sunday, December 8, but later that night managed to force the vote to go through.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that it was a “very good” thing that the bill has now been passed as the security environment now is getting more difficult. LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said that they are well aware that the public has several concerns about the bill and they will be working on “gaining further understanding” from them while waiting for the law to come into effect. DPJ’s Banri Kaieda meanwhile says, “We need to continue in our checking function as the LDP goes on the rampage.” The law seeks to bring stricter punishment to those who will be found guilty of divulging information that are considered “state secrets.”
For the government’s next few steps afterwards, they will be establishing an office within the Cabinet Secretariat to prepare the bill to become a law which they are forgetting to have in effect by December next year. They will also put up an advisory council of experts who will set the guidelines as to whether or not certain information will be designated as state secrets, as well as evaluating public servants to see if they can be entrusted with these state secrets.
[ via The Mainichi ]