Japanese whistleblowers could face prison under new laws



Japan is expecting to pass a law on Friday which would keep “state secrets” under tabs, with whistleblowers facing up to 10 years in prison.

The law, which was drafted by Japan’s reigning Liberal Democrat party in October, will gag whistleblowers who seek to expose state secrets, including sensitive information about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Japan’s growing tensions with China.

Under the new law, public officials or citizens of Japan could face up to 10 years imprisonment for exposing state secrets. Journalists who obtain any information covered by the law could be locked up for five years.

Campaigners branded the law the “Fuk-hush-ima Act”, warning that it severely endangers public right to information and the freedom of the press.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, is believed to be pushing the law through to silence any secrets that may aggravate tensions with China.

Japanese officials have come under increasing pressure from the US to better protect state secrets in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

It is also believed that the act has been introduced to keep quiet a series of developments at the crippled Fukushima plant that are embarrassing for both the government and the plant operators, who were heavily criticised for failing to control radioactive waste.

Further reading:

Japan’s secrets act plans to gag whistleblowers

Japan PM pledges help to stop Fukushima radioactive water leaks

Japan turns off last nuclear reactor

The Guide to Responsible Media 2012


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