Japan Likely To Pass New Secrecy Law That Would Put Whistleblowers And Journalists In Jail
from the exactly-wrong dept
One of the many worrying aspects of the Snowden saga is an attempt in the US to reframe whistleblowing as treason, and to make it harder for people to reveal information to journalists or the public that might embarrass the government there. However, things are even worse in other parts of the world. In Japan, for example, there are plans to bring in a new secrecy law that will make whistleblowing even more risky, as Reuters reports:
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 new law would dramatically expand the definition of official secrets and journalists convicted under it could be jailed for up to five years.
The law has multiple problems:
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.
“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.
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. That’s especially retrogressive as the beneficial effect Snowden’s leaks have had becomes clearer by the day, especially in terms of starting a global debate about key areas like surveillance, privacy, and government accountability.