Japan’s State Secrets Law Takes Effect Amid Protests

11 December 2014

Japan’s new state secrets law took effect Dec. 10, with critics still protesting, according to articles in The Ashai Shimbun, The Guardian, Japan Times, The Wall Street Journal and the World Bulletin.

The law mandates prison terms of up to 10 years for public officials who leak state secrets. Journalists and those who encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five years.

Several street protests were held and groups released statements objecting to the law.

The Japan Congress of Journalists said it would “cover the people’s eyes, ears and mouth and usurp their freedom of the press and speech.”

Reporters Without Borders called the law “an unprecedented threat to freedom of information.”

“The law says that the act of leaking itself is bad no matter what the circumstances,” said Yukiko Miki of Clearinghouse Japan, a non-profit organization that promotes information disclosure.

Yoichi Eto of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations was quoted as saying, “This has made it so that even if you don’t illegally get or leak secrets, if you solicit or conspire to get secrets it’s possible to be tried for a crime.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee earlier this year voiced its concerns. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report. Also see a previous FreedomInfo.org article by Morton Halperin and Molly Hofsommer, another by Lawrence Repeta, and one by Joel Rheuben.)

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