Japan’s House of Representatives has passed the controversial secrecy bill on Tuesday, paving the way for the ruling bloc Liberal Democratic Party to enact it before the ending of the current session of the Diet on December 6. However, getting it approved by the House of Councillors will be another thing, as opposition lawmakers are asking for more deliberations on the bill.
The LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito Party forced a vote in the special committee earlier on Tuesday and then had it approved by the Lower House later that day, although some opposition lawmakers refused to vote or walked out of the session. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday after the Lower House vote that they are aware of the concerns raised about the secrecy bill but he will try to dispel (such worries and concerns) through deliberations in the upper house.” He emphasized that this bill is “to protect the safety of the people.” This is part of the administration’s plan to have Japan play a more active role in global security issues, by giving it the capability to share sensitive information to other countries.
Under the bill, anyone who will be convicted of leaking “special secrets” or any information that concerns diplomacy, defense, counterterrorism or espionage, can be sentenced up to ten years in prison. The “special secrets” will remain classified for up to 60 years and after several discussions with opposition Japan Restoration Party and Your Party, they agreed on the Prime Minister having the authority to check whether or not the information can be legitimately considered a state secret. The ruling bloc will also “consider” setting up an independent monitoring body to ensure that it doesn’t violate the people’s right to know, which is the main reason for the opposition to the bill.