Japan enacts state secrets law despite protests
By Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka, Reuters
December 7, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
TOKYO -- Japan enacted a state secrets law toughening penalties for leaks on Friday, despite public protests and criticism that it will muzzle the media and help cover up official misdeeds.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, keen to beef up Japan's security amid rising concerns about China's military assertiveness, has said the law is needed for the smooth operation of a new National Securities Council and to persuade foreign countries such as close ally the United States to share intelligence.
Media, publishers, lawyers and even entertainers have denounced the bill, which drastically expands the definition of state secrets and for some has echoes of Japan's harsh authoritarian regime before and during World War Two.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government would make efforts to explain the law and win the country's trust before the measure takes effect.
“We think that this law is extremely important for our connections with our allies and other foreign nations,” he said. “I believe that people will come to understand.”
The passing of the law coincides with a worldwide debate on secrecy after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents and a U.S. Army private leaked information to anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.
The bill, previously approved by parliament's lower house, was enacted into law in a raucous, late-night session by the upper chamber after a series of delaying tactics by opposition parties.