Japan’s major newspaper association asked the government Friday to review its practice of “excessively” keeping information secret under a privacy law that came into force a year ago.

“Amid an increase of excessive reactions and intentional concealment of information, it is an urgent task to review the practice being mindful of the balance between the availability and protection of personal information,” the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association said in a statement presented to a Cabinet Office panel.

The association said the “misunderstanding” that private information should be kept secret has spread since the personal information protection law fully took effect in April 2005 and has resulted in serious problems seen at every level of social activity and in deteriorating neighborhood ties.

As examples, the association said that more and more schools and neighborhood associations have stopped listing emergency contact telephone numbers of students and that medics have declined to brief police on the physical conditions of victims of crimes and accidents.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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