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AUDIO: Japan’s new Bill to restrict freedom of information

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Japanese secrets legislation prompts rights concerns Radio Australia,  28 October civil-liberty-2sm2013,  A legislative push by Japan’s government to clamp down on intelligence leaks is set to pass the country’s parliament, sparking major concerns about Freedom of Information. Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has given cabinet approval for a State secrets bill, which will give government departments free reign to classify information if they deem it sensitive.

Japan’s government says the move is vital for shoring up its military alliance with the United States… but journalists and legal experts warn the legislation will have a chilling affect on free speech.

Presenter:Bill Birtles Speaker: Joel Rheuben, a Japan-based lawyer and post-graduate researcher at Tokyo University; Jeffrey Kingston, the Director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan; Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister

BIRTLES: Having been signed off on by Japan’s cabinet on Friday last week, the State Secrets Act is all but certain to pass the Diet, meaning the most restrictive information regulations since World War Two will soon become law…….

KINGSTON: ‘Well it’s really interesting that the national broadcaster NHK, which is normally reliably pro-government, has had a series of programs where they talked about this legislation in a critical way, which surprised me. And in one of these programs, they said it appears to be a dangerous return to the wartime situation. So I think there is widespread concern, NHK has a huge influence on public attitudes, and a lot of people wonder why is it necessary’.

BIRTLES: Some political experts have speculated that the law could be used to suppress embarrassing information, including problems at the trouble-plagued Fukushima nuclear plant…….

BIRTLES: And it’s not just public servants who may find themselves in the firing line. Private sector workers, including journalists, face up to five years in jail ……..

October 29, 2013 - Posted by | civil liberties, Japan, Resources -audiovicual

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