Norika Fujiwara has broken an unwritten rule of the television business: sharing her political views. The popular model and actress has come out against a bill that stiffens penalties against civil servants who leak classified information.
Writing on her website, Fujiwara, 42, said passing such a law would adversely affect citizens and encouraged her fans to pressure the government to kill the bill, which the Diet will take up in an extraordinary session scheduled to open Oct. 15.
In a message posted on Friday, Fujiwara accused the government of covering up the truth about the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and spreading misinformation about radiation and leaks of radioactive water there.
“As a citizen I am really concerned about it,” Fujiwara wrote in another message. “Our nation has a right to know.”
Fujiwara joins the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association in opposing the bill as a violation of the right to freedom of speech that will undermine Japan’s democracy.
“Once the bill is signed, the people who will write the truth on the Internet (or through other means) will be punished,” she stressed. “When I think of all the consequences that it will lead to, it really bothers me.”
In a message posted soon after the International Olympic Committee picked Tokyo to host the 2020 Games, Fujiwara said she was hopeful the duty would prompt the government to tackle the radiation crisis head-on.
Fujiwara revealed that she had also used the government’s public comment system to voice her opinion to the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office.
However, she complained that the public comment system only gives citizens two weeks to provide their opinions on implementing the law.
Fujiwara also provided detailed information on her website on how to contact the government, and encouraged her fans to send in their own opinions by Internet, fax or mail.
Fujiwara, who has been involved in charity activities in Japan and elsewhere as the PR ambassador for the Japanese Red Cross Society, recently made her eight visit to areas damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
In May, the actress received a special award at the Nikkei Social Initiative Awards ceremony, held by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, for her contributions to society.
However, she is not the first TV celebrity to expose herself to criticism by expressing her opinions.
After speaking out against nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, actor and activist Taro Yamamoto lost a part in a TV series, and another show he appeared on cut to a commercial in the midst of his political commentary.
Yamamoto was elected to the Upper House in July after vowing to rid Japan of atomic power.
Secrets protection bill placed in Mori’s hands
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to put Masako Mori, minister for measures against the declining birthrate, in charge of a state secrets protection bill.
Abe said the goal is to submit the bill at the extraordinary Diet session to be convened Oct. 15.
The bill would stiffen penalties for public officials who leak confidential information.