• Kyodo

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A U.S.-based organization of journalists on Tuesday criticized a Japanese bill on protection of personal data as posing a threat to press freedom.

The proposed bill “contains provisions that infringe on journalists’ freedom to gather information and report the news,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter sent to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Citing Japanese news reports, the organization said specific provisions of the bill, including references to “personal information” and “appropriate” means of acquiring information, are not clearly defined and could be misused by government authorities to restrict access to information.

It also said the Japanese Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association has protested the proposed law, saying it would pave the way for the government to infringe on expression.

A Lower House panel is currently deliberating the bill, which has also drawn opposition from business leaders and lawyers.

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