National / Politics

NPO criticizes government for inappropriate document control during Constitution debate


A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization on Wednesday criticized the Cabinet Legislation Bureau for failing to keep any public records of internal discussions leading up to the landmark Cabinet reinterpretation of the Constitution to lift the country’s ban on collective self-defense.

It has been reported that the legislation bureau, which is tasked with examining and ensuring that government bills to be submitted to parliament do not violate the Constitution, received the draft of the Cabinet decision on June 30, 2014, and responded the following day to the government without any specific comment.

In a statement addressed to the legislation bureau chief, the NPO, Access-Info Clearinghouse Japan, said, “It should be recorded and preserved as administrative documents how the bureau examined the draft and reached its conclusion” in accordance with the Public Records and Archives Management Act.

The NPO urged the bureau chief to direct staff to appropriately compile and manage administrative documents so it can be possible to verify decision-making processes and other operations of administrative bodies.

Based on the Cabinet reinterpretation on July 1, 2014, the parliament enacted on Sept. 19 this year security legislation allowing Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.

In doing so, it overturned previous governments’ constitutional interpretation that Japan had the right to collective self-defense but could not exercise it under the pacifist Constitution.

The NPO has worked for enhancing information disclosure to secure the people’s right to know. Recently, it filed a lawsuit to seek the disclosure of a government report examining the policymaking process behind Japan’s support for the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 2003.