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Tokyo cancels U.N. freedom of expression expert’s visit; supporters cite secrecy law scrutiny

Kyodo

A U.N. expert in charge of freedom of expression said Thursday that the Japanese government has canceled the visit he was scheduled to make next month.

David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, told Kyodo News he hopes he “can continue to work with the (Japanese) government” and that he has always had good interactions with it.

The rare cancellation of the official visit drew criticism that the Japanese government is trying to hinder him from raising such issues as the secrecy law, which is aimed at preventing the leak of state secrets.

Under the contentious law, which took effect last year, civil servants and others who leak designated secrets will face up to 10 years in prison, and those who “instigate” leaks — including journalists — will face prison terms of up to five years.

“We will rearrange the schedule because we couldn’t make full preparations to accept the visit due to budget compilation and other reasons,” said a bureaucrat in the Foreign Ministry.

“The government has said that they wanted to postpone the visit until the autumn,” Kaye said. The ministry declined to confirm the remark.

Kaye announced his plans to visit Japan from Dec. 1 to 8 at the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly in October. He planned to conduct hearings with bureaucrats, journalists and citizen activists about information disclosure regarding the secrecy law and other topics related to freedom of expression in Japan, according to Kaye and lawyer Yuichi Kaido, who planned to support him during his trip, said.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee expressed concerns about the secrecy law last year.

In response to Friday’s cancellation request, Kaye urged the Japanese government to reconsider. But Tokyo notified him of the decision again on Tuesday, Kaye said.

“Japan as a government and as a country is, generally speaking, very respectful of freedom of expression,” he said.

“We look at things that are worth celebrating, perhaps as a model that other countries could follow,” the special rapporteur said, adding, “We also identify areas where there might be some concerns.”

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Japan; not acting shady in the least here! LOLZ.
    Maybe Japan is worried that in the same way it got called out by the UN a couple of weeks ago for have a schoolgirl prostitution epidemic, it’s now worried that it will be (correctly) shown up for having a freedom of expression problem.*

    And before all apologists turn up to accuse me of ‘bashing Japan’, allowing right-wingers to spout hate-speech on the streets of Japan is not the gold standard of ‘Freedom of Expression’.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Japan; not acting shady in the least here! LOLZ.
    Maybe Japan is worried that in the same way it got called out by the UN a couple of weeks ago for have a schoolgirl prostitution epidemic, it’s now worried that it will be (correctly) shown up for having a freedom of expression problem.*

    And before all apologists turn up to accuse me of ‘bashing Japan’, allowing right-wingers to spout hate-speech on the streets of Japan is not the gold standard of ‘Freedom of Expression’.

  • tiger

    Let’s all stop pretending here. ‘Freedom’ is overrated.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    “We’ve got nothing to hide, so no need for you to come. No, you can’t have a look, now go away.”

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Brahma CHELLANEY opines that Obama (who SAID on international TV that he had no intent to interfere in Syria’s civil war) actually helped start it! Shall we send the expert on freedom of expression to find out what state secret was being concealed?

    What about the crushing of dark humour on the theme of so-called “terrorism”? It is spreading from No. America (even Canada’s airports) to here.
    There are two theories: the copy-cat crime theory of jokes about murder (including the guilt-for-associating-such-a-thought-with-humor) and the (is it Aristotelian?) theory of purgation by a good laugh.
    An educator was scolded (punished?) for word-play on “dislike” leading to “murder” (if I got the rapid Japanese right). The judgers seem to hold the copy-cat-crime theory.
    What about the freedom of expression for Aristotelians? Grim events leave children’s hearts in need of being eased. If not by religion so much anymore, what about humour as self-detachment-from-frustration? It may be a Zen-like resource. (I am now checking my own too serious questioning of a different Japan jokester this past week.)
    Or have we as a people become too light-hearted, lost in gourmet eating and government-approved baby-making, to risk the auto-suggestion of dark humour?

  • thedudeabidez

    “The government has said that they wanted to postpone the visit until the autumn,”

    In other words, after the next election.

  • tisho

    I just checked all the Japanese news, and as usual this story was not reported anywhere. Japanese people need to seriously learn English and start informing themselves on the state of their country from international media, otherwise they will continue to be information-deprived and uninformed about their own country, much like North Koreans are.

    • Ahojanen

      >I just checked all the Japanese news

      You’re ignorant. Some local media outlets including NHK have reported quite timely, some faster than JT. My advice here would be, you need to seriously learn more Japanese :)

      • tisho

        But i checked the NHK website as well, and i follow NHK and a lot of other news media on my Twitter. I also check most of the web portals that have many news sources attached to their news feed. If you claim NHK has reported on this story, feel free to copy the link, otherwise you are lying.

      • Ahojanen

        You must be lazy… or Japanese-illiterate? Google yourself with the words 国連, キャンセル to get some. At least NHK, Asahi, Sankei, and Mainichi have reported it.

        Excerpt from NHK Online;
        日本の「表現の自由」国連の調査が延期に
        11月20日 15時02分
        日本における表現の自由について、来月1日から行われる予定だった国連の特別報告者による調査が日本政府からの要請で延期されました。これは、表現の自由を担当する国連のデービッド・ケイ特別報告者が自身のブログで明らかにしたものです。