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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • icon
    Ryan Jentzsch (profile), 1 Nov 2013 @ 4:42am

    Corrupt politicians have hidden behind the ‘National Security’ farce before

    In the U.S. it wasn't until the media turned on Nixon that this concept was exposed for what it is: A political tool to hide corruption from the public.

    If you have the media on your side this is an effective tool. If not and you're morally corrupt then start practicing the phrase: I am not a crook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 5:00am

    After all, what says patriot better than cheerfully consuming radioactive waste from Fuckishamia

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 5:12am

    Chernobyl 2.0 here we come.

    There won't even be a Japan with the way things are going.

    Those anti-piracy laws didn't stop all that J-Pop and anime from being uploaded all over the place. This law isn't going to stop people from getting the truth out there either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Internet Zen Master (profile), 1 Nov 2013 @ 6:15pm

      Re: Chernobyl 2.0 here we come.

      This. Manga's still being released on time

      Hell, from what I've seen based on my observations on the H-game crowd, the only thing that law did was cause pirates to wait longer before uploading stuff into the wild by about 2 weeks to a month.

      All the Japanese government has done is just caused piracy to slightly delay its unofficial release schedule, and that's just on the file-sharing sites.

      No idea how it's affected the torrent uploads though...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 5:19am

    Bush, Obama, and whoever has been chosen to be the next president are jealous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 5:34am

    Japan has no civil liberties really only the appearance of it.

    Also the cultural aspect falls into place, you don't shame people more important than you, you respect at all costs the hierarchy, those who do are ostracized.

    Which is bad since Japan is in great need of innovation. Japan is the worst place to do business or to be an entrepreneur, they lack the flexibility and their veiled xenophobia is always there even in the simple things, albeit very subtle most of the time.

    Even unflattering news can get you a rough ride in Japan.

    AN EXTRAORDINARY story is making the rounds among the hacks and other expats in Japan. A Canadian freelance journalist who has lived in Japan for years fell into the ugly whirlpool of Japan's immigration-and-detention system. For years human-rights monitors have cited Japan's responsible agencies for awful abuses; in their reports the system looks like something dark, chaotic and utterly incongruous with the country's image of friendly lawfulness.

    The Economist:
    Japan's immigration control Gulag for gaijin

    Amnesty International: Japan: Welcome to Japan?

    Wikipedia: Human Rights in Japan

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Nov 2013 @ 5:45am

    That's a feature, not a bug

    '...making it impossible to predict what would come under its umbrella.'

    Yeah, I'm betting the vague wording is entirely intentional, as it allows them to silence far more speech than it first appears or that they'd ever be able to justify.

    If they openly said 'publishing anything that makes the government looks bad will land you in jail', that probably wouldn't go over well, but if they just imply it, without ever coming out and saying so, I imagine they think they'll be able to slip it through without too much challenge.

    Also of note, when a government starts cracking down on whistleblowers and potential whistleblowers, it's a pretty solid indication that they've been doing, or plan on doing, something they very much want to keep hidden, so the question is, what is the government of Japan so desperate to keep under the rug?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 6:17am

    First they came for the so-called 'terrorists'/but I didn't speak out because I was not a 'terrorist'/Then they came for the whistleblowers and the media/but I didn't speak out because I was not a whistle blower or the media/Then they came for ____/but I didn't speak out because I wasn't ___/Then they came for me/and there was no one left to speak for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 6:20am

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master. -- Sid Meyer's "Alpha Centauri", credited to Pravin Lal, leader of the Peacekeeping Forces

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 7:55am

    A democracy works because the people know what you're up to and vote for it.

    A dictatorship only works if the people don't know what you're up to.

    All hail General Alexander for f**ing up the remaining surviving democracies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 8:52am

    from what i have read, Japan used to be a proud country. now, it is quickly turning into an Asian version of the USA. i wonder how much influence has come from the one to the other? a hell of a lot more than we know about, i'll bet!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 9:49am

    As a country Japan is very awkward.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 9:56am

    You know, I've always wanted to be the ruler of earth! I think I'll run for president.

    Maybe do a little cannibalistic genociding with some BBQ Sauce. Take over Russia and China then go make friends with North Korea and give them Japan just for the lulz.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2013 @ 10:53am

    Whistleblowers could send their stuff to journalists outside of Japan. A journalist outside of Japan is NOT SUBJECT to Japanese law. So, if, say, investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald were to get something from someone in Japan, he would not NOT SUBJECT to Japanese law, as he writes for a British newspaper, making what he writes subject only to British laws.

    Leakers are finally figuring this out. When someone leaked information to Al-Jazeera about an FBI investigation into corruption in the state legislature in California, they knew what they were doing. Since Al-Jazeera is in Qater, it is only subject to QATARI law. Therefore Al-Jazeera, and its reporters, are NOT SUBJECT to any U.S. laws, on that matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Robin Datta, 4 Nov 2013 @ 4:11am

    Those who equate the highest mischief with the highest virtue are the most treacherous of humankind. Cutting out the heart of humans before tossing the carcasses into volcanic caldera. For the Government to lie though its teeth at a staccato pace immediately preceding Hiroshitmess and Nagashitcake. SSDD (Same shit, different date, with Fuku she may (that's Japanese for Fuku, she WILL!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 5 Nov 2013 @ 7:43am

    9/11 whistleblower has book out

    Hey Glyn, are you interested in hearing about what happened on 9/11 from someone who knew the Mossad agent who organised the theatricals on that day?

    A new book on 9/11 is out.

    Dimitri Khalezov has spent 10 years researching and writing a book on what happened during 9/11. The book is now available. Download links:

    Or read at:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/170266922/9-11thology-The-third-truth-about-9-11-or-Defending-the-US-Go vernment-which-has-only-the-first-two

    In a 2010 interview, Khalezov explained that you can't build a skyscraper in NYC without an approved demolition plan. On 9/11, the World Trade Center's demolition plan was put into action to demolish the complex.

    Khalezov learned of this demolition plan from his job in the Soviet Union. He had worked in the nuclear intelligence unit and under an agreement between the Soviet Union and the USA, each country was obliged to inform the other of peaceful uses of nuclear explosions. The WTC was built with 3 thermo-nuclear charges in its foundations.

    Note: underground nuclear explosions do not produce mushroom clouds. This is only ever seen when the explosion takes place above ground. On 9/11, the explosions were deep underground.

    More info:

    You can watch the 2010 interview at:
    Vid eo # 4 - WTC's demolition plan
    Video # 14 - WTC 7 (which fell ˝ hour AFTER the BBC announced its collapse).
    Videos # 24/25 - chronic radiation sickness of WTC responders (their cancers are not due to asbestos poisoning)

    Khalezov was interviewed on 4 Sept 2013:

    I know it is preposterous to claim that the WTC was brought down by nukes but go check the definition of 'Ground Zero' in the old dictionaries you have at home. You'll find that there would only be one definition and that would be something like:
    'the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs'.

    After 9/11, the US government sent people round to every bookshop and public library on the planet to replace ALL the dictionaries with amended versions which have an expanded meaning of 'Ground Zero'. The new versions (even of old editions) have 2 extra meanings which are:
    2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change
    3: the very beginning : SQUARE ONE

    Have a look at this video:
    At 6:05 mins, he shows the old and new definitions of 'Ground Zero'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.