politics

Gov't designated 382 state secrets last year under new law

49 Comments

The Japanese government designated 382 cases as being subject to the new state secrets law as of the end of 2014.

According to the Cabinet Secretariat, of the 382 cases specified, the majority of cases dealt with defense and international diplomacy, TBS reported Saturday.

The Defense Ministry specified 247 cases as "specially designated secrets." Of those, 85 involved cyphers and codes, 54 concerned defense equipment procurement and 25 regarded the activities of the Self-Defense Forces.

The new state secrets law, which was enacted on Dec 10, allows 19 government agencies to designate information regarding defense, diplomacy, counterterrorism, and counterespionage that they deem particularly sensitive. However, as of Dec 31, only 10 of the agencies had submitted subjects.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the controversial law, which was passed in December 2013 amid protests, is essential to convince allies led by the United States to share intelligence with Japan.

Critics of the law say that it will help conceal government misdeeds and limit press freedom. They say that whistleblowing on government misdeeds will be chilled. Reporters Without Borders has called the law "an unprecedented threat to freedom of information".

The law mandates prison terms of up to 10 years for public servants or others leaking state secrets, while journalists and others who encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five years.

Two watchdog groups oversee implementation of the law, one directed by the prime minister.

Critics say Abe's government failed to keep a pledge to win public understanding of the law by not fully explaining how it will be implemented. The Cabinet Office solicited public comment for a month from late July until late August - during prime summer vacation time.

© Japan Today/Thomson Reuters

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

49 Comments
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So what these subjects are is also secret.

Sounds like fascism to me.

The kind of law that the grandson of a war criminal would create.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

To enforce draconian laws means a return of a draconian police force-watch out for a remitarisation of the police to protect 'national security'.....

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Two watchdog groups oversee implementation of the law, one directed by the prime minister.

Watchdog? More like watch-puppy! Cute to look at but no teeth, particularly the one directed (what a joke) by the PM's office.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

We'll have to take their word for it.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Abe’s government failed to keep a pledge to win public understanding of the law by not fully explaining how it will be implemented. Even this list itself, appears to be a secret. Instead they have broken the list into broad categories, rather than being clear. Try googling the list.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

85 involved cyphers and codes, 54 concerned defense equipment procurement and 25 regarded the activities of the Self-Defense Forces

So, that leaves some 247 "secrets" that are entirely at the discretion of the Japanese government? Riiiiight.

How many of these secrets involve corruption or abuse of office? How many involve suppresion of legitimate information that a free, democratic society deserves to know? Oh, wait. We can't know that now, can we? It's all been locked away as "Secret." Covenient, no?

Two watchdog groups oversee implementation of the law, one directed by the prime minister.

Oh, for the love of Pete... Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. I'd trust Abe and his undoubtedly hand-picked band of watchdogs to be fair and impartial only as far as I'd be able to toss them from the front steps of Yasukuni Shrine. The man's a snake.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

54 concerned defense equipment procurement

Hence the Kawasaki spokesman having no knowledge of weapon sales negotiations

The law mandates prison terms of up to 10 years for public servants or others leaking state secrets

And that reinforces it.

journalists and others who encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five years

watch out mods

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Look, I don't get what's so newsy about this. The law was passed. Of course it'll be used. Making it sound like the biggest news of the century is sensationalism. Are we even aware of how many secrets were designated in other countries this year?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiJan. 11, 2015 - 10:56AM JST Look, I don't get what's so newsy about this. The law was passed. Of course it'll be used.

The fact that more than a third of the things being designated as "secret" don't fall into the categories for which the law was designed? It isn't that the law is being used, it is that it is clearly already being used in ways it wasn't designed to be used.. in other words it is being abused from the outset.

Are we even aware of how many secrets were designated in other countries this year?

Is that in any way relevant? Is this a contest where if another government is more corrupt than yours then it is okay? This isn't "competitive corruption", this is about a government passing a law that is HUGELY open for abuse and then, in just a month or so, demonstrating clearly that they are misusing it.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

The start of a police state expansion, ironic coming from a "pacifist" country. Lately the younger police patrols have been seen harassing regular citizens more and more. Why so many secrets from a Pacifist country that has a super power for a military? Abe is so busy closing and building walls around government just like the old days rather than focus on Japan's economy. People of Japan have forgotten that after WW2 they have a voice and that voice does not belong to a group but individuals. It's getting a majority support that is the problem but any blind fool can see what is coming in the future of Japan. The police will continue to harass regular people and the military will grow only to harass it's own people.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

At least it is being done as a law, in the UK the authorities can issue guidance requesting that the media not report on certain stories - that would be 'guidance' of course

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Making it sound like the biggest news of the century is sensationalism.

How long have you been around here and are just figuring this out? Everything gets sensationalized this is the land of the sensational rising sun isn't it?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No doubt there was another 300 that didn't make the list. If you have state secrets how can you call it a democracy? It's a fascist state, isn't it?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Two watchdog groups oversee implementation of the law, one directed by the prime minister.

I've always thought that watchdog groups should be impartial and free from government meddling. But then, looking at the direction this country is going, and how NHK is becoming like CCTV of China, I'm not really surprised.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Kazuku Shimazaki< January 11, 2015. 4:30 P.M JST Just because another country has more piecees if information designated as state secrets than Japan does not mean the Abe Cabinet should feel justified in putting 382 pieces under that category, nor does it mean each citizen of Japan should give the Abe government the benefit of doubt wishfully thinking that they will abstain from abusing the law just to keep the people in the dark about whatever they do not want us to know. Given the current political shift to the far right and the presence of government-happy right-wing mass media and scholars who believe in currying favour with the government, we should remind ourselves of the need to to get the teeth pulled out of the law and vote LDP out of office again next time around. We should not put the past behind us.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree with most posts here. Abe is to Japan as Obama is to America. The problem is that people do nothing. One person said at least it is the law. I respond, if they make a law that says you must commit suicide because it is the law, will you obey the law? Laws can be unjust laws with ulterior motives and those who obey unjust laws are guilty of the wrong the unjust law wishes to enforce. When immoral laws are passed is it moral to follow immorality?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I agree with most posts here. Abe is to Japan as Obama is to America.

If only we could be so lucky. Obama has brought prosperity to America and saved it from economic collapse. Abe is dragging us down towards economic collapse.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Obama has brought prosperity to America and saved it from economic collapse.

Are you off your proverbial rocker here? Do a tiny bit of research and enlighten yourself to the FACT that deficits under Obama are off the charts. Obama is going to go down in history as one of the WORST presidents in American history, and it's a shame considering how he initially came into office.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please. Obama is not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fact that more than a third of the things being designated as "secret" don't fall into the categories for which the law was designed? It isn't that the law is being used, it is that it is clearly already being used in ways it wasn't designed to be used.. in other words it is being abused from the outset.

How can you conclude that from the article? There are 9 categories of defence secrets specifically admitted. 2/3rds have been slotted into 3 categories. It seems more reasonable to presume the rest are scattered among the other categories than to assume criminality from the get go.

Is that in any way relevant? Is this a contest where if another government is more corrupt than yours then it is okay? This isn't "competitive corruption", this is about a government passing a law that is HUGELY open for abuse and then, in just a month or so, demonstrating clearly that they are misusing it.

Yes, it is. We need other countries to get an idea of how many secrets are typically passed a year. Also remember that this is a new law and so there's a backlog that has to get cleared first.

In fact, given how many topics a government has to process, my first impression is that a mere <400, for all ministries combined, is actually quite restrained. Of course one can keep the dark lenses and say they are starting slow, but at least that's the score so far.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiJan. 11, 2015 - 09:17PM JST How can you conclude that from the article? There are 9 categories of defence secrets specifically admitted. 2/3rds have been slotted into 3 categories. It seems more reasonable to presume the rest are scattered among the other categories than to assume criminality from the get go.

Let me check my math: 382 cases. 247 cases from the Ministry of Defence. Of those 247 only 164 fall into defined categories.

Oh, wait, you're right. I was being WAY too generous. It looks like almost half the state secrets don't fall into a defined category if you consider the total number of secrets (164 of 382), and within the MoD about a third don't fall into a defined category.

And those defined categories are important because they were what they originally designed the law for.

Yes, it is. We need other countries to get an idea of how many secrets are typically passed a year. Also remember that this is a new law and so there's a backlog that has to get cleared first.

No, we don't. The problem is that they said, "Okay, this law is going to be to classify this sort of stuff..." and they defined categories. Now the first set of statistics we have shows that they're not using the law as intended because 30 to 50% of the secrets don't fit into the categories designed.

Trying to compare number of secrets classified in other countries would be utterly pointless unless we knew the contents of the secrets... which we can't know because of the secrecy act. All we do know is that it is being abused.

In fact, given how many topics a government has to process, my first impression is that a mere <400, for all ministries combined, is actually quite restrained. Of course one can keep the dark lenses and say they are starting slow, but at least that's the score so far.

... and how do you know that these numbers are accurate? The big problem with secrecy laws is that the statistics on secrets, or at least some kinds of secrets, could be considered a state secret. So actually there's no way to know that your argument about the total numbers has any validity.

What we can say for certain is that based on the data available it seems like the secrecy law is being used to classify items that were originally not designed to be classified and do not fit into the pre-defined categories. And that's ALL we can say.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Until Mr. Abe gives up his nationalist views and prioritizes his focus the need for secrecy would still belong to "trade secrets" i.e. inventions by businesses in Japan, not imperialist military operations that do not or help Japan but make more enemies it doesn't need.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Is that in any way relevant? Is this a contest where if another government is more corrupt than yours then it is okay?

Of course it is very relevant. How can you criticize Japan without knowing how your country is doing? Fairness is important when you criticize someone, otherwise you become hypocrite. And I don't think the number of secret equates corruption.

it seems like the secrecy law is being used to classify items that were originally not designed to be classified and do not fit into the pre-defined categories.

Why do you care about items originally not designed to be classified And how do you know they are not in pre-defined categories.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How can you criticize Japan without knowing how your country is doing?

Because if what Japan is doing is wrong, it's wrong no matter where the speaker of the criticism is from. Another country's wrong actions do not exuse wrong actions by Japan.

Fairness is important when you criticize someone, otherwise you become hypocrite.

No. None of us here run our countries, so there is no hypocrisy. We are not the ones directing the actions our countries perform, and therefore there can be no hypocrisy, which is saying one thing while doing another. As we are not doing anything (aka running our countries) there can be no discrepancy between our actions and our words. Therefore, our countries are irrelevant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Frungy:

Let me check my math: 382 cases. 247 cases from the Ministry of Defence. Of those 247 only 164 fall into defined categories.

Yes, so because Reuters decided only to go for "big" categories in a relatively short article, you automatically assume the ones that are not listed by Reuters must be bad?

Trying to compare number of secrets classified in other countries would be utterly pointless unless we knew the contents of the secrets... which we can't know because of the secrecy act.

That's true of all secrets, so you cannot blast Japan on that basis.

... and how do you know that these numbers are accurate? The big problem with secrecy laws is that the statistics on secrets, or at least some kinds of secrets, could be considered a state secret. So actually there's no way to know that your argument about the total numbers has any validity.

If you want to insist the numbers are not accurate, that's your choice, but at this point you are really making things out of thin air.

The only thing you know from this article is that Reuters has reported only the largest categories. Whether they did this because they decided to be brief or they are manipulating things to their own benefit (a significant percentage of Western media seem to find advantage in implying the worst possible things about Japan) is unclear. However, at this point, I just cannot see the point of excessive alarm.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No. None of us here run our countries,"

Do any of you run Japan by any chance?

You ought to fix yours first, prior to attempting your neighbour's.

And don't say you must fix your neighbours only, because you love him so much that you left your own house to lodge on the neighbour's one!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

tinawatanabeJan. 12, 2015 - 12:07AM JST

Of course it is very relevant. How can you criticize Japan without knowing how your country is doing? Fairness is important when you criticize someone, otherwise you become hypocrite.

Fairness has to do with following the social contract in a particular country, because the social contract is where we derive ideas of what is fair or unfair. This makes comparisons with other countries, which have different social contracts, completely irrelevant.

Oh, and for reference, hypocrisy would be trying to excuse a government using a law designed to do X and using it to do Y by saying, "Look, everyone else is doing it too!".

And I don't think the number of secret equates corruption.

Well done for proving you didn't understand my post.

Why do you care about items originally not designed to be classified

Because if I pass a law to, for example, classify defense secrets, and then use it to classify other (unspecified) stuff then people are not using the law as intended.

And how do you know they are not in pre-defined categories.

... you could try reading the article.

Kazuaki ShimazakiJan. 12, 2015 - 12:27AM JST Yes, so because Reuters decided only to go for "big" categories in a relatively short article, you automatically assume the ones that are not listed by Reuters must be bad?

And you're assuming they're only listing the "big" categories. The difference between our positions is that I have a documented source, while you have... ummm... nothing you're prepared to share. Perhaps it is a state secret?

Trying to compare number of secrets classified in other countries would be utterly pointless unless we knew the contents of the secrets... which we can't know because of the secrecy act.

That's true of all secrets, so you cannot blast Japan on that basis.

I'm NOT blasting Japan on that basis. I'm just saying that the type of comparison YOU want is pointless. Try to keep up.

If you want to insist the numbers are not accurate, that's your choice, but at this point you are really making things out of thin air.

No, I'm not. I'm pointing out that the position you want to adopt is based on an assumption of complete disclosure, which since we're dealing with a secrets act that limits disclosure is an illogical starting premise.

The only thing you know from this article is that Reuters has reported only the largest categories.

Cite a document to prove this or admit you're wrong, but don't keep on repeating this without proof in the hope that chanting it like a mantra will somehow magically make it true.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/tokuteihimitsu/gaiyou_en.pdf

The first page classifies four main categories and the subcategories.

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/tokuteihimitsu/pdf/jokyo_list.pdf

The 382 cases categorized above.

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

Unfortunately, there are people who rely on this type of Western media because they have no choice due to their language ability. As you stated, This is a case of making news out of thin air.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Neither Locke, nor Rousseau defined social contract in the way you want to imply it!

In any event state secrets are backed up by law, thus there it goes your theory about breach of social covenant to surrender rights, by the citizen to the legitimate authority, in exchange for protection by the state! And you are not a citizen in Japan, therefore, alien to the social contract.

Not racism, just legal facts not changed by your unreciprocated Japan love.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

You ought to fix yours first, prior to attempting your neighbour's.

Many of us have lived in Japan for decades, paying taxes, raising families, and even starting businesses that in turn pay taxes and employ Japanese nationals. Japan isn't our neighbor, it's our home.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Many of us have lived in Japan for decades, paying taxes, raising families, and even starting businesses that in turn pay taxes and employ Japanese nationals. Japan isn't our neighbor, it's our home."

Your choice.

Imigrants have no rights, as nationals do.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Imigrants have no rights, as nationals do.

Apparently you're not very knowledgeable of Japanese law.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fairness has to do with following the social contract in a particular country

Japan does not have any social contract with forigners regarding national security.

hypocrisy would be trying to excuse a government using a law designed to do X and using it to do Y by saying, "Look, everyone else is doing it too!".

No evidence J govt and I did that. I only said check your govt first before bash Japan otherwise hypocrisy.

Well done for proving you didn't understand my post.

Your post based entirely on this article and your prejudice.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Neither do you,if you believe that your ymmigrant ststus is equal to that of a national.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Peeping_TomJan. 12, 2015 - 02:58AM JST Neither Locke, nor Rousseau defined social contract in the way you want to imply it!

Proudhon, Rawls, and Gauthier would find my use of the term acceptable. The understanding of the social contract has expanded beyond the narrow terms of Locke and Rousseau, and has returned to the more general principles originally discussed by Grotius.

In any event state secrets are backed up by law, thus there it goes your theory about breach of social covenant to surrender rights, by the citizen to the legitimate authority, in exchange for protection by the state!

One just needs to look at the the Apartheid laws in South Africa to point out the illogic of your position. Something being a law does not automatically make it in line with the social contract.

Secrecy laws, if used only for their intended purpose, are in line with the social contract, since the individual is surrendering access to information and a free press in exchange for protection. HOWEVER if these laws are being abused or used in ways not for the protection of society, but in self-serving ways to protect individuals or institutions that are breaking the law then it is outside the social contract.

Thus the manner in which a law is being used is critical in determining if it is in line with the social contract.

And you are not a citizen in Japan, therefore, alien to the social contract.

That is a rather definitive statement to make on the basis of zero evidence.

Not racism, just legal facts not changed by your unreciprocated Japan love.

Your assumption that some being a law makes it legal is amusingly naive.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Your assumption that some being a law makes it legal is amusingly naive."

Now, this one really takes the cake!

I am in practice (Solicitor, a real one) and must say, this one is really amusing.

In any event, you are a foreigner; no social contract applies to you in Japan, irrespective of hours spent on Grotius.

Japan is a sovereign and its residue vests on the people. You are not the people.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

All readers back on topic please, which is Japan's state secrets law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Peeping_TomJan. 12, 2015 - 10:49AM JST

Your assumption that some being a law makes it legal is amusingly naive."

Now, this one really takes the cake! I am in practice (Solicitor, a real one) and must say, this one is really amusing.

Then you should understand the distinction between something being a law and its being legal. There are countless examples of illegal laws, laws that were subsequently overturned as being unconstitutional. Likewise there are countless examples of laws being abused in illegal ways that necessitated the repeal or rewriting of the law and/or the prosecution of those abusing the law.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And what you need to learn (because you don't know) is that a law can never be illegal!!!

What you can have is a law being ex post facto declared illegal by a subsequent law. Prior to the subquent law, the now revoked law was legal!!!

Or you can have an immoral or unjust law being promulgated, but NEVER an illegal law.

Where did you study this kind of Jurisprudence???

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Not being in Paris means G8 is G6 or what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And what you need to learn (because you don't know) is that a law can never be illegal!!!

Sorry but Frungy is correct about this. I think you might be trying to apply the English idea of parliamentary supremacy to Japan where it doesn't apply. Unlike in England & Wales, a law in Japan can be declared null and void due to unconstitutionality. However, because Japanese courts are not bound by precedent, the law is only declared null and void in that particular case so it stays on the books in a bit of a legal limbo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Unlike in England & Wales, a law in Japan can be declared null and void due to unconstitutionality."

Not correct!

The idea that a law vigente is ALWAYS legal is of universal application, be it in Japan or Koi-shan Land (if there was such a place).

A law can later be void and nulled by another act of parliament. While is not revoked is valid law.

This is basic law stuff, learned in my first year at Uni. Certainly you are not suggesting Frungy is qualified to teach me this?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

So I am a secret that has to be Known..!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is basic law stuff, learned in my first year at Uni. Certainly you are not suggesting Frungy is qualified to teach me this?

I'm not sure what Frungy's qualifications are but he is correct. My friend may wish to read from the bottom of page 525 to 526 of the link below describing the effects of a decision by the Japanese Supreme Court which holds a law to be unconstitutional.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=OohyicuN-GIC&pg=PA525&lpg=PP1&focus=viewport&hl=ja&output=html_text

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And since when unconstitutionality is the same as illegality?

Do your know what "ultra vires" is?

You are either confused or don't know what illegitimacy and illegality are!

Again, and for the last time, a law in force CANNOT be illegal (even in Japan).

It only becomes illegal once is revoked!

With all due respect there's a reason why I am a Solicitor and you (and Frungy) are not.

No disrespect!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

You are either confused or don't know what illegitimacy and illegality are!

You are just uttering pure nonsense now. Good-bye.

With all due respect there's a reason why I am a Solicitor

I have very serious doubts about that for quite a few reasons.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to the list posted by nigelboy, the only ones that could be controversial are two by Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and four by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry the others would be considered as secret of national security by any nation like the National police department which is rough equivelent of FBI, the Public security agency, Coast Gaurd, etc.

In fact I believe FBI has more stamped as national secret alone considering they are part of Homeland Security.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

With regard to these unspecified secrets, I would just like to express how delighted I am that we seem to not be receiving any more news from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

I found the constant updates of terrifying radiation leaks and institutionalized incompetence and corruption very stressful, so I'm glad there has been no news from TEPCO since this law came into effect. I can only assume everything has been sorted out.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Journalist should not be scared about this law, they should fight it, I would like to see how will be perceived Japan and how to keep a leading position in the world if the gov't was starting to arrest several journalists...one after one....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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