On Dec. 10, 2013, a new state secrets law was passed by the Diet, even as thousands turned out to protest. The new law was criticized for its vagueness, severity and lack of independent oversight. One year later, on Dec. 10, 2014, the controversial legislation went into effect and a large portion of the public continued to oppose it. Another year later — and no one is talking about it.

Perhaps that is a good thing. After all, it would mean that there have been no overt instances of the law being applied to the detriment of press freedom — or at least no instances that we know of. But complicit silence is harder to quantify, and as Sarah Repucci, director of Freedom House's Freedom in the World project, points out, "Sometimes you don't ever need to implement a law, if by its existence you are able to encourage self-censorship."

The main impetus for the passage of the new law was a desire to share more information with the United States as the security situation facing Japan becomes more concerning. Japan has historically been known as a "spy heaven," and the need to change this stigma is what is driving recent developments.