Information on the way Japan’s nuclear power plants are guarded by police and security officers will be designated as a state secret by a government-sponsored confidentiality bill, said Masako Mori, minister in charge of the legislation.
“If we make public the security plans of police, such information could reach terrorists,” Mori said Friday in a meeting of a Lower House special committee on national security that kicked off full deliberations on the bill.
The legislation designates such information as a state secret under the category of terrorism prevention. As for information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, Mori said that this will not be thus classified because it does not fall under any category.
The controversial bill calls for tougher penalties on government officials and others who leak official state secrets but leaves their designation to top officials of government agencies.
As it stipulates that freedom of the press and news-gathering activities should be given due consideration, New Komeito lawmaker Yoshinori Oguchi asked in the meeting whether the provision applies to newspapers operated by political parties.
Mori replied that, in principle, she views this kind of news-gathering as press coverage intended to inform the electorate.
New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, issues a party paper called Komei Shimbun.
The government wants the state secret protection bill to be enacted during the ongoing session of the Diet that ends Dec. 6, insisting it is inextricably linked to a bill to establish a national security council.
That legislation cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Meanwhile, opposition parties are taking a firm stand against the proposed legislation, citing concerns about arbitrary designation of state secrets and infringement of the public’s right to know.