Japanese Catholics oppose Special Secret Bill

The new Special Secret Bill binds not only government officials but also civilians from disclosing anything on a matter designated as secret.

Japan
Dec 05 2013, 7:30 PM
Japanese Catholics oppose Special Secret Bill
Masaharu Nakagawa (bottom, L), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on National Security, is surrounded by lawmakers during a vote on a state secrets act at the parliament in Tokyo.

The Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace has opposed draconian provisions in the Special Secret Bill to be put for vote in the Diet on December 6.

Chairman of the Justice and Peace Council, Michael Goro Matsuura, said that those who seek a free and peaceful society were bound to object to the draft bill that allegedly went against the basic principles of the Constitution of Japan.

His statement was endorsed by 232 individuals and 30 groups and was addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The legislation gives arbitrary powers to the government to designate any action as a ‘Special Secret’. Critics fear that in the absence of a clear definition on what all would constitute as secrets, it can be widely misused.

The bill binds not only government officials but also civilians from disclosing anything on a matter designated as secret. Diet members are also covered under the secrecy law, according to Matsuura.

The Diet, the highest organ of state power under the Constitution, would be made practically inferior to administrative organs under this law, he said.

The council fears that if the bill is passed, a variety of matters would be carried out in secret under the pretext of strengthening the Japan-US alliance, including deployment of Japanese troops abroad.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution bars Japan from using force to settle international disputes. The bill has been given overriding powers over Article 9.

Under the legislation even information such as on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Accident can be hidden from the public under the pretext of ‘anti-terrorism’.

Even if a crackdown against people were to occur, neither mass coverage nor questioning in the Diet would be allowed if the bill becomes law, the Catholic leader said.

Source: Catholic Bishops' Conference Japan

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