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The government is planning a bill designed to punish private-sector individuals who leak sensitive information on nuclear facilities, holding them to the same standard as government workers, according to sources.

The measure is part of a bill to revise the reactor management law to prevent attacks on nuclear facilities, the government sources said.

The government plans to decide on the bill in February and submit it to the Diet during the current legislative session in the hope that the revisions will take effect in January 2006.

Other envisaged changes include installing “nuclear materials protection inspectors” to examine the readiness of the facilities to protect nuclear materials in the event of attack, the sources said.

The revisions would require anyone who has present or past links to nuclear facilities — including facility employees, security guards, maintenance workers and employees of companies engaged in the facilities’ planning or construction — to maintain confidentiality.

Violators could receive up to a year in prison or a 1 million yen fine. This is in line with the National Public Service Law, under which government employees who leak information face penalties of up to one year in prison.

Japan has been studying ways to prevent attacks on nuclear facilities and theft of nuclear materials in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Under the proposed legislation, nuclear materials protection inspectors would inspect nuclear facilities once a year to assess security measures, including their ability to protect nuclear materials from intruders until police arrive.

Twenty-one such officers would be assigned to the eight regional offices of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry.

After the legal revisions are in place, nuclear facility operators would be required to submit to the government detailed building plans, the location of nuclear materials and information on how security guards are deployed in the facilities.

The operators would also have to submit to the government a list of people who may have access to confidential information and their methods of managing sensitive data.

Once the legal revisions take effect, the government plans to present nuclear facility operators with scenarios of anticipated attacks, which the operators must use to formulate counterattack programs, government sources said.

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