Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is planning a state secrets act that critics say could curtail public access to information on a wide range of issues, including tensions with China and the Fukushima nuclear crisis.The law has multiple problems:
The new law would dramatically expand the definition of official secrets and journalists convicted under it could be jailed for up to five years.
Legal and media experts say the law, which would impose harsh penalties on those who leak secrets or try to obtain them, is too broad and vague, making it impossible to predict what would come under its umbrella. The lack of an independent review process leaves wide latitude for abuse, they say.Given that the political bloc supporting Abe has a comfortable majority in both houses of the Japanese parliament, it seems likely that the new gagging law will be passed without much problem.
"Basically, this bill raises the possibility that the kind of information about which the public should be informed is kept secret eternally," Tadaaki Muto, a lawyer and member of a task force on the bill at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, told Reuters.