The Cabinet this week approved legislation that creates a new security clearance system for the handling of confidential information related to economic security.

Parliament should pass the bill. The move is long overdue and will facilitate Japanese cooperation in multilateral projects previously off-limits that are essential to the country’s future.

Japan first moved to protect official secrets in December 2013 when the Diet passed the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets; it took effect the following year. The law punishes individuals who leak “specially designated secrets,” or information that could do severe damage to national security if it was possessed by an enemy or adversary. The legislation identified four areas to which such secrets would apply: defense, diplomacy, counterintelligence and prevention of terrorist activities.