Summary of the JFBA Statement Concerning the Monitoring Function of the Diet Regarding the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets
The Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (the “Act”) entered into force on December 10, 2014. Since a number of Japanese citizens have expressed their concerns and doubts regarding the Act, the Diet has decided to create and set up a monitoring body within the Diet. Such monitoring body will consist of a standing Information Oversight Screening Panel (the “Panel”) in both chambers of the Diet.
As we point out below, however, a number of problems exist in terms of whether or not such Panels can function effectively:
First, the number of members of such Panels needs to be significantly increased.
Second, additional provisions that clearly state that whistle-blowing (concerning specially-designated secrets) can be accepted by the Diet should be established.
Third, when either Panel makes a judgment on a case where the declassification of specially designated secrets would be appropriate, such judgment is only a recommendation and has no direct enforceability. Even with no direct enforceability, however, it will still be necessary for the Panels to at least have authority to wield possible influence over administrative bodies regarding budgetary and personnel matters.
The most problematic issue of all is the fact that, even at the ordinary Diet sessions currently being convened, members of the Panels have still not been selected. In the current situation, the Diet will not be in a position to prevent the unchecked abuse of the system of designating secrets by the applicable administrative authorities.
The very reason why the various parties in the Diet have not been able to implement the enhancement of administrative monitoring by the Panels is because the design of the system for and the monitoring functions of the Panels are suffering from problems such as those described above, and no agreement has yet been reached on how to respond to such problems.
The Diet is responsible for monitoring the government in order to serve the public’s right to know and to support a sound and vibrant democracy. In order for the Diet to fulfill such functions, fundamental revisions to the Act and the revised Diet Act are required.
Therefore, in launching the Panels, the JFBA calls upon the state to conduct a full-scale review of the Act (including the possible repeal thereof) in a prompt manner.
February 13, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations