A panel of private-sector experts has worked out a draft enforcement standard for the state secrets law, including creation of two oversight bodies and government sections that would accept whistle-blowers' reports. Unfortunately, the setup falls far short of preventing arbitrary designation of government information as state secrets, which endangers the people's right to know.
Because the proposed bodies will be staffed by bureaucrats, it will not be able to provide independent oversight against improper designation of state secrets, and no specific protection is provided for officials who reveal wrongdoings. As the Abe administration plans to put the law into force by yearend, the danger of limitless expansion of state secrets has not been eliminated.
According to the draft standard, which the Cabinet plans to formally adopt after soliciting public comments for a month through late August, one of the oversight bodies will be created within the Cabinet Office and headed by a bureaucrat of the rank of deputy chief of a ministry bureau. Government ministries and agencies will annually report to the body the list of the information designated as state secrets over the past year, and summaries of the designated secrets when necessary — but not the content of the secrets themselves.