• SHARE

Two key bills — one aimed at allowing public access to records of government ministries and agencies, and the other seeking to ban prostitution and pornography involving minors — were approved Wednesday by the full Upper House.

The freedom-of-information bill and the law against child prostitution will be sent to the Lower House for further deliberations.

The information disclosure bill is expected to pass into law May 7, while the child prostitution bill also is likely to be enacted sometime after the Golden Week holidays.

The information disclosure bill was approved by the upper chamber after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan reached a deal Tuesday to revise a supplementary provision of the bill.

The amendment allows for a future expansion in the number of courts where citizens can file lawsuits against the government should their requests for administrative information be rejected.

The revision says the number of courts will be reviewed four years after the enactment, making it possible for the Naha District Court to be added for the convenience of residents of Okinawa Prefecture, as the opposition has sought.

The original, government-proposed bill said citizens can file such lawsuits only in Tokyo. But the House of Representatives amended it in February to include courts in Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu and Fukuoka.

The bill, first submitted to the Diet in March 1998, would allow any individual, Japanese or foreign, and any company to request administrative records preserved on paper, magnetic tape, floppy disk or other electronic mediums.

It would allow the government to reject requests for information in six fields, including defense, diplomacy and police data, as well as information on certain individuals.

The central government crafted the bill nearly 20 years after Japan’s local governments started to adopt similar disclosure measures.

The child prostitution bill, which was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Upper House Committee on Judicial Affairs, was endorsed by the full Upper House in a plenary session Wednesday.

Applicable both domestically and overseas, the new legislation will prohibit Japanese citizens and others subject to Japanese law from engaging in paid sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 18, and bans the sale and distribution, production, possession, import and export of child pornography.

The proposed bill was drafted partly in response to international criticism of Japanese “prostitution tours” in Asia and the large number of child pornography Web sites based in Japan.

It also marks the first attempt to control the growing domestic social problem of “enjo kosai,” in which teenage schoolgirls receive money from older men in exchange for dates that often include sex.

Coronavirus banner