Japan Rams ACTA Through; Ratifies It While Avoiding Debate
from the but-of-course dept
We heard some rumblings out of Japan over the weekend that the ruling party was seeking to ram ACTA through the ratification process there. This wasn’t a huge surprise. Japan was actually a key player in the formation of ACTA at the very beginning, and it was where the first official “signings” all took place. Japan has been pushing for exceptionally strict copyright laws and ACTA was supposed to help spread such laws further around the globe. Already, we’ve seen the country criminalize unauthorized downloads and making DVD backups… leading to a publishing exec facing jail time for offering a book that tells people how to back up their DVDs.
About a month ago, the upper house of the Japanese legislature passed ACTA, as the first step in ratifying it. Some had thought that ACTA might stall out as a minor issue while other political turmoil went on, but it appears that Japan’s ruling party has decided to push forward with the ratification. Last week, the Foreign Affairs Committee within the legislature tried to push through ACTA without allowing any discussion from opposing politicians — which caused a ruckus, leading to a slight delay. However, after a few days, the committee passed it anyway. The ruling party then sought to do something similar, rushing it through a full vote, which appears to have just happened, resulting in ACTA’s approval with effectively no real debate. In fact, it was mostly a non-story in Japan. It wasn’t covered by the press and most politicians were basically silent about it.
This is fairly incredible, given the widespread protests we saw towards ACTA in Europe and a rapidly growing protest movement in Japan. Still, the protestors admit that ACTA just hasn’t caught on as an issue in Japan like it has elsewhere. That’s unfortunate for a variety of reasons, but they’re hoping to change that with a protest on September 9th.
Of course, there’s a question of how useful is it to ratify ACTA when many of the other negotiating parties (mainly the EU countries) don’t seem likely to follow through and ratify the document in its current form. One report I heard out of Japan suggested that the ruling party there recognizes that ratifying ACTA is mostly symbolic at this point, but that it needed to be done to “save face” for the negotiators. Of course, if they really wanted to “save face,” perhaps they shouldn’t have negotiated for absolutely awful limits on how copyright can be reformed, while pushing for greater enforcement without necessary safety valves against abuse. Either way, the whole thing definitely has all of the appearances of ACTA being rammed through by political interests who don’t want any debate on such a topic.