The Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan agreed Tuesday to amend the information disclosure bill, now under debate at the Upper House, allowing for the review of a key provision four years after its enactment.
The agreement between the ruling party and the largest opposition force is aimed at allowing for a possible increase in the number of courts accepting complaints against the state in regards to information disclosure. Under the proposed bill, only district courts in eight major cities nationwide can accept such complaints.
With the support of other major parties deemed certain, the amended bill is likely to clear the Upper House today. It will be sent back to the Lower House for additional debate and is expected to be enacted into law in early May.
The passage of the bill, which aims to expand public access to the central government’s internal documents, would mean the bureaucracy will finally follow the lead of local municipalities two decades ago to adopt similar measures.
The bill was adopted at the Lower House on Feb. 12 after the ruling and opposition camps agreed to increase the number of courts where complaints are filed from one to eight.
The government’s original bill cited the Tokyo District Court as the only court with which citizens can file complaints against the government for rejecting requests to disclose requested information.
The LDP and the opposition camp amended the bill in Lower House deliberations to include seven additional district courts.
The eight district courts are those in Tokyo, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu and Fukuoka.
Once the bill is enacted into law, any individual — Japanese or foreign — or any corporate organization will be allowed to request access to administrative information that has been recorded on paper, magnetic tape, floppy disc or any other electronic medium.
The bill, which was submitted to the Diet last March, states that it is the duty of the government to explain its activities to the people.
The parties, however, have failed to agree to clearly state in the bill the public’s right to access administrative information, with the LDP arguing that the Constitution does not clearly provide such a guarantee.
Under the bill, the government can reject requests concerning defense diplomacy and police data, as well as information on certain individuals.