Under new law, about 460,000 documents likely to become ‘special secrets’


The government will likely designate around 460,000 documents as “special secrets” in the areas of diplomacy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage after the contentious state secrecy law takes effect on Dec. 10, a Kyodo News survey of 19 government offices said Sunday.

The documents are considered highly confidential secrets in national security and diplomacy based on a 2007 government guideline. The Cabinet Secretariat was keeping the bulk of the documents, which were tallied at some 353,000 items as of late last year.

Signaling the opaqueness of the new system, which toughens penalties for leaking state secrets, only three of the 19 government offices provided concrete answers regarding how much information they plan to label as “specially designated secrets” when the law takes effect.

Others said they are still considering the matter or “refraining from answering” just weeks before the activation of the controversial law, which has triggered concern that the public’s right to know will be undermined.

But it is believed that the 460,000 documents deemed highly confidential are destined to be treated as special secrets under the law.

Many offices did not answer questions on issues such as which section will be in charge of dealing with whistle-blowers who develop suspicions about the arbitrary classification method used for state secrets by the government.

Kyodo News asked the 19 government offices in mid-November to respond to its questionnaire and had received answers by Tuesday.

In addition to the Cabinet Secretariat, the Foreign Ministry had 21,826 documents deemed as secrets requiring special control as of late last year, the Public Security Intelligence Agency had 15,292 documents, and the National Police Agency had 13,951 documents.

The Defense Ministry, which has its own system for controlling secrets, had about 45,000 documents categorized as secrets.

The Finance Ministry and Financial Services Agency said they would not designate any documents as special secrets under the law on their own, because they would share such secrets designated by other government bodies through budgetary requests and other sessions.

The Cabinet Office said it might have one document related to defense that could be designated as a secret.

Asked whether current secrets will be labeled as special secrets under the new law, the Foreign Ministry said it will “narrow down” the items and add other documents.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said “nearly all” the documents currently categorized as secrets will also be treated as secrets under the new system.

The Cabinet Office, meanwhile, said that it might add other information as special secrets.

Yukiko Miki, the head of nonprofit organization Access-Info Clearinghouse Japan, said she senses “excessive secretiveness” in the government offices because it is difficult to imagine that the contact points for whistle-blowers or other details have not yet been decided at this point.

  • nosnurbd

    The hypocrisy of Governments is astounding, as is the hypocrisy of those who control Governments. It reveals a great distrust in Democracy, which it seems the Governments do not believe in! This is worldwide problem, where the few think they know better for the sake of citizens, and of course for themselves.

    • rossdorn

      It is my permanent experience that as often as someone spells out this simple truth, then the biggest part of the truth, the actual one and only problem with this…. is missing.

      All these governments get away with that behaviour, because the vast majority of morons elects these politicians… and they do this not once, but again and again.

      It is not, as you write “distrust”. It has nothing to do with trust, this question never arises. There are certain powerstructure in every society that the ones that “rule” and “own” will always use. If these people share this society with a mass of sheep, they will be delightes that there behaviour is legitimized in a way that even allows them to stamp the whole thing “democracy”.

      I fail to see a problem here… a problem exists only for fools who prefer to believe in lies, instead of opening their eyes.

      • Shiki Byakko

        The system is put in place so that these people are the only ones who have any kind of real opportunity at winning an election.

        The standard profile of a politician is that of someone with a lot of charisma and somewhat disregard of the real world and criticisms, which creates a kind of psychopathic-like behaviour.
        This allows these people to show a level of certainty and confidence on their ideas and the things they say, that normal people are not capable to say, because of things like empathy, regret and shame.

        Democracy is a popularity contest, and like all popularity contests the winner has little to do with their actual qualifications or effort.
        Politicians have to be kind of like a celebrity, in order to be able to be recognised by everyone in a big country.
        To do this you need to have a lot of money to be able to promote yourself to that extent, for the most part most people are unable to do this, so that is why political parties exist.

        But political parties have exactly the same problem in a smaller scale, and when their people get in power, they press to change the system so that it favours more their party.

        In order to be elected, it is not enough to have good ideas, and a plan in place to implement them. For the most part you don’t even get a chance to voice your ideas in any real scale.

        And also big political parties create this sense of being the only real option. Kind of on the same level of buying a famous brand cereal vs a not so know or a generic one. If you know that the small-brand one is better, or the same but cheaper you will probably buy it, but for the most part you will go with the bigger brand, because it creates a false sense of being better.

      • rossdorn

        Are you actually saying that Abe or Aso have charisma ?????

      • Shiki Byakko

        He does, just like Putin has on his own merits. Charisma does not always appeal everyone the same way, and he is charismatic in the sense that he appears to be a strong leader, something that is extremely favorable in politics.

      • rossdorn

        “…he appears to be a strong leader…”

        To whom? To you?


      • Shiki Byakko

        To the voters.

      • nosnurbd

        Maybe you misunderstand what I said. Because of the secrecy of governments the citizens distrust what the governments say and distrust their motives. And, when politicians are elected, they continue the scam because they are then on the inside and have a vested interest in maintaining and extending the secrecy. All governments seem to operate this way and continue to amass more and more information and dark secrets.

  • Guest