Secrets overseers to study U.S. way

Kyodo

The government is considering sending a mission to the United States for tips on how to establish an independent body that would oversee the classification and disclosure of national security information, a source said.

The idea of dispatching Cabinet Secretariat officials, possibly early in the new year, grew from the strong public protests over the new law on national secrets that imposes stricter punishment on people who leak or seek classified information.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been under pressure to ease public concerns after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to stop the law from clearing the Diet. Opponents decry the law as a violation of the Constitution’s Article 21, which guarantees freedom of the press and states that “no censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”

The planned Japanese mission is expected to learn from the operation of the Information Security Oversight Office, a component of the National Archives and Records Administration that is responsible for oversight of the U.S. security classification system, the source said.