DPJ bill puts limits on ‘secrets’ bill

Kyodo

The Democratic Party of Japan wants any information designated as “special secrets” to be limited to intelligence shared with other nations, lawmakers in the top opposition party said Monday.

The call by the DPJ comes amid growing fears about the disclosure-shy government’s bid to further tighten state control of information. A bill submitted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led government imposes harsher penalties on people who leak national secrets.

The DPJ plans to submit its own bill to call for introducing a system of checks and balances involving the Diet or a third-party panel to prevent the government from making arbitrary decisions on what constitutes a “secret,” the lawmakers said.

The bill, adopted by the Cabinet last month, punishes leakers of “special secrets” — information on foreign and defense policy or spying and terrorist activities — with up to 10 years in prison.

The DPJ, in its own bill, aims to lower the maximum penalty to five years in prison and exclude defense secrets that are already protected by the Self-Defense Forces law, as well as acts of espionage, which are difficult to define, the lawmakers said.