JFBA Brief Note – The Future of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (Towards a Full-scale Review of the Act)
The Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (the “Act”) was enacted after having been railroaded through the Diet despite being exposed to various problems and strong opposition from every demographic in Japan.
It was railroaded through the Diet amid revelations of a series of problems, namely, the fact that the government's statements during the deliberations in the Diet contained numerous inconsistencies, the fact that the government had to make an official promise to set up an independent body to oversee the process of designating the designated secrets, and so on. Such forceable enactment has left a significant issue to be considered pertaining to the concept of deliberations in the Diet.
The biggest problem involved in the Act is that there is a risk that it enables the government to make an arbitrary designation of the designated secrets, and imposes a severe penalty upon not only the acting persons who leaked the designated secrets but also the abetter thereof, and therefore, there is a strong concern that it may lead to a violation of the public’s right to know due to the chilling effect thereof. The JFBA has pointed out such problems and expressed its opposing opinion from early on.
However, the problem was more than a matter of the aforementioned issues. Indeed, it has been revealed one after another such that; it is problematic in light of the supremacy of the Diet that the government can select the information to be provided to the Diet at its own discretion; the Act fails to meet the standards stipulated in the "Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information" ("The Tshwane Principles") at all; and there is a problem with the definition of terrorism in the Act.
The JFBA pointed out these problems, and the problems involved in the Act have become increasingly apparent in the course of being covered by the media and the Diet.
In light of the process of the deliberations of the Act, it is obvious that the Act has a number of problems. They include, i) what kind of independent monitoring body should be formed; ii) how the aptitude assessment system to handle designated secret information should be operated (especially employees of private enterprises); iii) how the items entrusted to government ordinances should be stipulated; and iv) how the Public Records Management Act and the Access to Government Information Act should be revised; and so on. Some of these issues shall be resolved without fail before the effectuation of the Act.
Hereafter, we, the JFBA, need to conduct a specific review of these issues and problems, and express its opinions. Through such activities, the problems involved in the Act will be elucidated further.
The JFBA Central Board regarding Countermeasures to the System of the Protection of Secrecy Law will conduct a review of these issues and problems, and continue its activities such as, organizing symposiums and public meetings, exchanging opinions with members of the press, citizens groups, business groups, industry groups, Diet members, etc. Through these activities, the JFBA aims to realize a full-scale review, including the repeal, of the Act.
By Hideki Tani, Deputy Secretary General of the JFBA