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37 Comments

Protesters hold placards with a photo of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a rally against the government's planned secrecy law, in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, on Thursday night. The government is planning a state secrets act that critics say could curtail public access to information on a wide range of issues, including tensions with China and the Fukushima nuclear crisis. The new law would dramatically expand the definition of official secrets and journalists convicted under it could be jailed for up to five years. The placards read as "No Secrecy Act".

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Heartening to see people out in force to protest against a draconian piece of legislature, but at the end of the day it will be all for naught.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

there are protesters often marching through this park all orderly and nice

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would believe these protesters a lot more if they would defend their democracy by signing up and volunteering to defend their country. That is the ultimate selfless defense of freedom and democracy.

-30 ( +1 / -31 )

@homeland,

Don`t be silly.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Good to see people standing up against this law. Wish I could see more young people in this photo, though.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

In Japan protesters always seem to comprised of a majority of elderly people. I don't see anyone under 60 in that picture above. In other countries, protesters seem to be more college age students. Is it because the young Japanese don't care about what is going on around them?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

If Japanese refused to pay their taxes en masse then things would soon change....

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Unfortunately, it won't make a blind bit of difference.

Abe's lot are going to do pretty much what they want now. Losing power to the DPJ was a wake up call for them and they won't want that to happen again. (See the report about the last election being unconstitutional but not illegal etc.)

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This is how Abe keeps everyone in line. Pass a grey law and any press or article the government doesn't like the editors goto Jail. It is communism!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Shouldn't the right-wingers be there to defend Abe?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

homleand: I would believe these protesters a lot more if they would defend their democracy by signing up and volunteering to defend their country. That is the ultimate selfless defense of freedom and democracy.

In addition to the utter nonsense that is the premise of this comment, the thing that tops it off is the supposition that Japan represents freedom and democracy in the first place, and that defending Japan is defending the concepts of freedom and democracy. While it's certainly more free and just than many other countries, it's got a long way to go to meet those lofty standards.

By the way, I wish it were possible to vote "Good" for this entire photo. Let's pack a few million more into Hibiya Park and really push the issue.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@nikkeiboy

Because younger generations are more concerned about threats from neighboring countries, and so think fit to pass this law.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Not only will acts of leaking specific secrets be subject to punishment but trying to know it too will be subject to punishment also. This will significantly inhibit the free coverage of the reporters of the press, the researchers and freelance writers and legitimate whistle-blowing will shrink significantly.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

tinawatanabe: "Because younger generations are more concerned about threats from neighboring countries, and so think fit to pass this law."

No, it's because of an overall general sense of apathy. WHY would they be 'concerned about threats from neighbouring countries' and so agree that information from Fukushima should be limited?

Might soon be time for Abe's next tummy-ache.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

@ tinawatanabe: Because younger generations are more concerned about threats from neighboring countries, and so think fit to pass this law.

--- LOL

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yet another article that refutes the notion of Japanese citizens as being a group of unthinking, blind masses unwilling to stick out or criticize anything publicly.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@gogogo

This is how Abe keeps everyone in line. Pass a grey law and any press or article the government doesn't like the editors goto Jail. It is communism!

Um, I'd be inclined to believe that quite a few of the protesters are from the Japan Communist Party. (Opposite of right is left?). Fits the ages shown here too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No apathy. All I can see now in people around me is concern about China and South Korea.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Good people.

Agree with other posters that its a shame there aren't more young people there. They are the people who will get really shafted by this.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

See, this is a pure example! You have no youth in this picture! Its ALL older people. Why? Because the youth don't care. Same with history. Same with everything. Its just waste of time and energy for these people. Yeah, its good for them to show their support, but what about their future? Thats why I think its all a trick sometimes. Its all to make us foreigners believe they are changing. The only thing they want to change is history. And they want to rule. Same with the people going abroad or studying english. its just old people taking an interest. how is that going to help the future?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Same ol' folks who were demonstrating anti-nuclear. Retired and bored.

This year, they started off with anti-nuclear, summer consists of anti-Emperor on August 15th, finish off the year with this. Same ol' knuckleheads that voted for Taro.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

"1984" author George Orwell will roll in his grave if this secrecy law gets passed.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Yet another article that refutes the notion of Japanese citizens as being a group of unthinking, blind masses unwilling to stick out or criticize anything publicly.

But look at them - people in their sixties, most of them veterans of the radicalism of the 1960s. Where are the young, the students of today? Playing on their keitei, i expect, while their liberty is stolen from under their noses.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Nigelboy "Same ol' folks who were demonstrating anti-nuclear. Retired and bored".

Can I infer from this comment you think the law is a good idea? Do you agree with all of its clauses (or lack of them), including the failure to include any mandatory period for making official secrets public, as exists in the US? Although not stated in the article, this is one of the major problems people have with the law.

I don't disagree with an official secrets act in principle, but if the secrets are not made public after 25/35 years then there can be no due process for investigating whether official secrets were appropriately classified in the first place.

No-one will ever, ever no what the secrets are. Don't you worry that this, and the lack of an independent body to review the designations as they are made, gives the government free license to designate as a secret whatever they like?

Nigelboy, can you confirm for us all that you are in favour of this and against the UN call for all secrets laws to have a mandatory disclosure period. Interested to hear you views! Thanks.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

'Where are the young, the students of today? Playing on their keitai....' Very probably. The few that have even bothered to read about this ( more than 140 characters can be such a drag ) may have gone the whole hog with an angry tweet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah well, the young people don't give a shit about what's going on in their country no more that they do for the rest of the world. They area totally clueless. Not really their fault, they are educated to be like that by an education system put in place by the people that you see in the picture above.

And anyway give me a break, the same people above are the category of the population who has always voted for the LDP, they are responsible for bringing back the LDP mafia to the power, they are responsible for having put Abe in charge. It was known for a while now that Abe was going with this new secrecy law but the population decided to give full power to Abe during the last election, a voting population mostly made of elderly people. Young people didn't bother to even consider what the last election was about, most of them hardly know what an election is for and why it matters.

Yes this is all hypocrisy, the young people are not only responsible for the wrong direction that Japan is taking. The elderly ones have their share of responsibility for their continuous support of the LDP party because it has always promised them to protect their vested interests.

Now they got what they deserved, it's not a ridiculous demo without the beginning of a strong will to change the situation that will reverse their stupid decisions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Can I infer from this comment you think the law is a good idea? Do you agree with all of its clauses (or lack of them), including the failure to include any mandatory period for making official secrets public, as exists in the US? Although not stated in the article, this is one of the major problems people have with the law

It's not stated in the article because from the placards these people were holding, those mandatory FOIA is not their concern. Their placards are something in the nature of "spy state" as fear of being spied by the government when the law itself was to prevent spies from gathering confidential information which jeopardizes public safety and welfare. As ex PM Nakasone called it, Japan is a "spy haven".

The law calls for 5 year period when a ministry declares it to be "secret". The said "secret" can be renewed every 5 years by the ministry but after it exceeds 30, it must be approved by the Cabinet (i.e. consisting of lawmakers elected by the people).

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The problem with laws like this are who determines what level it becomes to sensitive for public consumption? There always will be state secrets etc. in any country but if this is some way of hiding important truths from the people they should just remember that the government only governs on the consent of those that are governed. The U.S. could also learn that lesson as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They are all old. They will die off soon enough, and this small resistance will disappear. Japan is well on it's way to a fascist militarist state. In ten years, you won't recognize that country, and the US will be kicking their feet in the sand again for allowing Japan's military's rise. The US made the same mistake with China, thinking they would rise in Asia peacefully. Boy were they wrong, and look what happened.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Chucky3176,

Japan is well on its way to a fascist militarist state

Yes, and the U.S.A. is leading the way!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A handful of old people protesting. Will not change anything. Where are the young people of Japan?? Busy playing video games??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Congrats to the protesters! Make it bigger, enroll the young herbivores around you! Make them understanding their future is in their hands. Don't give up!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ nigelboy "The said secret can be renewed every 5 years by the ministry but after it exceeds 30, it must be approved by the Cabinet". Exactly - that's the problem I am referring to. I am not sure why you are adopting a teacher's tone as if you are telling me what I don't know. There is no provision for a limit on renewing the confidential status so the renewals can be indefinite. That's precisely what alarms so many people.

Let me repeat the question you avoided answering - is it a good idea for the government to be able to arbitrarily nominate secrets and keep them indefinitely? Yes or no? If yes, why? If no, why are you belittling the protesters?

Perhaps you can also explain how you conclude from the placards that the protesters are not protesting the governments intention to keep secrets indefinitely. They are clearly protesting the secrets law. It is universally acknowledged (at least among those opposed to the law) that this is one of the law's main problems.

The placards in the picture say "no to a black (meaning secretive or underground) society" which is certainly consistent with objecting to infinite secret-keeping and the lack of freedom of information. In fact that's the whole point.

Why have you concluded no-one is worried about this? I don't understand your rationale hear at all. Do elucidate. Thank you.

Thank you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

jpn guy

Why would you have a problem of Cabinet which consists of lawmakers elected by the voting citizens determine whether or not when that time period comes, decide to extend the secrecy of the information? If it's purely done by the ministries (bureaucrats) who are not elected by the people, arbitrary decide to extend at their own discrecion, then yes, I have a problem with it.

And yes. I will belittle the protesters for they have no clue as to the purpose of the law for there is a reason why it's also called "spy prevention law". This isn't about the governments "spying on people". It's not about creating an secretive society. It's about preventing secrets that undermine, compromise, and threaten the security of citizens of Japan that are released to dangerous hands by the public servants despite their intra agency rule that prevents them from so. You know why? Because there are not enough teeth to punish such conducts.

http://twitpic.com/deqeg8

Radiation exposure? TPP? WTF???

Passage of the bill=preparation for war? WTF??

http://www.himituho.com/活動報告/

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Two independent United Nations human rights experts today expressed serious concern about a Government-sponsored draft bill in Japan that would decide what constitutes a State secret.

Secrecy in public affairs is only acceptable where there is a demonstrable risk of substantial harm and where that harm is greater than the overall public interest in having access to the information kept confidential.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46560&Cr=japan&Cr1=#.Uo_iXGQY0qk

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Two independent United Nations human rights experts today expressed serious concern about a Government-sponsored draft bill in Japan that would decide what constitutes a State secret.

Yep. "Human rights" expert. Hence they don't have the brain capacity to connect paragraph 6 and 7 to the article you linked.

What's the phrase..? Oh yeah. Not Applicable. (N/A)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A lot of people are asking where are the young people?

The young people of Japan seem to understand that Japan faces many threats, and that Japan needs a National Security Council and a constitutional reform.

The young people of Japan also don't want to further jeopardize their employment opportunities by attending an event like this and being seen as a fringe lunatic.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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