More than 1,500 applications for information disclosure were filed with central government ministries and agencies Monday as the public made its first requests under a new law that took effect the day before.
|A small crowd watches as a man uses a computer to search for a government document at the Foreign Ministry.|
The Foreign Ministry, hit by a scandal over a former logistics chief who allegedly swindled huge amounts of its discretionary funds, received 662 applications.
The Financial Services Agency, which handles policies such as recapitalization of ailing banks, received 571 requests.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry accepted 99 applications, while the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, which supervises the information disclosure system, received 60 requests.
The applications were mainly made by the media, nonprofit organizations and citizens’ groups.
Under the law, the government entities will decide whether to release requested information within 30 days of receiving an application. Decisions on requests filed Monday will be made by May 2.
The public management ministry said information seekers can apply for disclosure at 1,800 locations across Japan, including state-run universities and local branches of central government bodies. It also said up to 26 million government files could be open to the public.
Toranosuke Katayama, the public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications minister, put up a signboard at the ministry’s information office indicating where documents at ministry offices around the country can be found.
Meanwhile, Sanichi Tani, a 52-year-old man from Shiga Prefecture who has contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, on Monday mailed an application for information disclosure to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Tani is a plaintiff in a damages suit accusing the former Health and Welfare Ministry of knowing since 1978 that dura mater — the fibrous membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord — imported from Germany and used in operations posed a risk of CJD infection.
The suit, filed with the Otsu District Court, also claims that the ministry failed to take action despite knowing of the danger the imported dura mater posed.
Tani asked the ministry for documents related to the German manufacturer of the dura mater used in his operation, those submitted by the Tokyo importer to the ministry, and the original investigation records it compiled.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Tani said that if useful information is found, his lawyers would submit it to the court as evidence.
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