Statement Protesting the Railroading through the Special Secrets Bill
Today, the Special Secrets Bill (the “Bill”) was railroaded through the plenary session of the House of Councilors and the Bill was enacted.
The Bill violates the public's right to know, and renders the sovereignty of the people a mere façade. Given that the amendments to the Bill proposed by four parties (i.e. the governing coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito Party, and the opposition Japan Restoration Party and Your Party) have not stipulated effective measures which would eliminate the risk of the Bill allowing officials to have power over what information they designate as special secrets, the magnitude of the risks involved has not been changed in any way. In response to such move, people from a diverse range of fields, including media outlets, research institutes and the movie industry, have started to express their opinions calling for the abolishment of the Bill.
However, even after the deliberations on the Bill commenced in the Diet, there were a number of inconsistencies and changes in the government's statements during the deliberations on the Bill in the House of Representatives, which caused some confusion and imbroglio in the deliberations. Further, a vote on the draft modifications to the Bill proposed by the four parties mentioned above and incorporating draft amendments submitted by the opposition Japan Restoration Party and Your Party, was also held after only a few hours of deliberation. The various points at issue which had not been thoroughly reviewed in the House of Representatives, should have been thoroughly scrutinized in the House of Councilors; however, even though a number of witnesses and speakers at public hearings had raised oppositions thereto and expressed their opinions indicating problems concerning the Bill, such opinions were also given short shrift and the Bill was railroaded through the House of Councilors within a short period of time. Such approaches could hardly be considered full-dress deliberations regarding such a very important bill, and could instead equate to the self-denial of the significance of the Diet's very existence.
Accordingly, it is entirely unacceptable that such Bill was forcibly passed in such a manner as to quash the philosophy of the sovereignty of the people and democracy, both in terms of content and procedure. Thus, the JFBA strongly protests against such point.
The JFBA will continue to carry out its activities in order to overcome these problems with the Bill in which there are a wide range of problems remaining to be resolved, such as the possible risks of: a violation of the people’s right to know and the freedom of the press, which are part of the basis of our democratic society; the imposition of severe penalties; and the invasion of privacy through the conduct of aptitude assessments. Together with the above, the JFBA pledges to continue making its utmost effort towards: i) revising the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs, and the Public Records and Archives Management Act, which are indispensable for maintaining the sovereignty of the people; and ii) formulating a system in order to improve issues surrounding the designation of secrets, which should be streamlined regardless of the existence of the Bill.
December 6, 2013
Japan Federation of Bar Associations