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Parties agree on necessity for secrets oversight panel

AFP-JIJI

Several political parties Sunday agreed to hold talks to create a parliamentary panel to oversee the government’s designations of state secrets.

The agreement came after the Diet passed controversial legislation late Friday night to toughen penalties against those leaking information designated as state secrets.

Political parties need to consider such a panel, Shigeru Ishiba, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told his counterparts from other parties on a television talk show.

Such a panel should be formed before the state secrecy law goes into effect, Ishiba said. Yoshihisa Inoue, secretary-general of New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, said such an oversight panel is necessary.

The Democratic Party of Japan, Your Party and Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party) says they support the proposal. The DPJ shares the view that such a panel is necessary, Akihiro Ohata, secretary-general of the largest opposition party, said.

Yorihisa Matsuno, a senior member of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), said it may be difficult to make lawmakers join such an oversight panel subject to confidentiality obligations, though expressed support for the proposal.

The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party voiced criticism of the proposal. Such a panel is meaningless because it does not affect the substance of the state secrecy law itself, Tadayoshi Ichida, secretary-general of the communist party, said.