The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry is locking all of its offices during business hours to prevent unauthorized entry, a measure that serves to tighten information security but may also limit media access to ministry officials.
METI began locking its doors electronically during working hours Monday, requiring news organizations to call government employees to request entry.
The new policy comes after the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine recently reported that the ministry leaked information about the summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month.
Among ministries, some offices dealing with confidential information at the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry are usually locked.
METI said the new measure is part of its review on information security policy and “has nothing to do with any specific case.”
Under the new policy, interviews with media organizations will now be held in designated rooms and details of the interviews need to be reported to those in charge of public relations.
News organizations asked the ministry for an explanation of the new policy.
METI claims the disclosure of information “will stay the same,” but some officials think the cumbersome new process may be used as an excuse to deny interview requests.
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