Facing criticism that a proposed bill aimed at protecting state secrets that the government deems vital to national security would strongly limit people's access to relevant information, the Abe administration now says it will insert a phrase in the bill emphasizing the inviolable principles of freedom of the press and people's right to know.

Such a phrase will be a mere declaration that will not have any effective power to guarantee those rights. Given the government's explanation so far, the bill is clearly antidemocratic in nature. The Abe administration should not submit the bill to the Diet.

It is deplorable that the Abe administration appears to be making light of people's right to know. Despite the danger that the bill would undermine people's right to know what their government is doing — indispensable for ensuring a healthy development of democracy — the administration collected public comments on the bill for only 15 days from Sept. 3 to 17. That's less time, for example, than the 42 days (from July 2 to Aug. 12, 2012) that the Democratic Party of Japan government took to find out people's views on the appropriate share of nuclear power in the nation's electricity supply in 2030.