JAPAN: Open Archives Scare Ministries

22 April 2003

The Asahi Shimbun (Japan) reports that government officials in Japan, hesitant to release files to public scrutiny, have been hoarding documents by extending their supposed “preservation periods,’ since an information disclosure law made archive records more open to the public

Experts view this as a less than auspicious response by bureaucrats to the vaunted disclosure law that came into effect in April 2001. Before the enactment of the law, it was common practice for archival officials to respect the wishes of ministries and agencies when deciding which files to reveal, but since the disclosure law came into force, national archivists have been bound by tighter guidelines.

The state-run National Archives of Japan stores documents deemed “historically valuable.’

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