The controversial law, Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, which was approved last year by the coalition government and some opposition parties, will be implemented in December this year. A sole option is abrogation of the law as it leads the nation to a country which may stage a war against others. Under the circumstances debates are going on how to establish an oversight organ in the Diet and a third party entity within the government.
INCOMPETENT, FIG-LEAF ORGANIZATIONS THAT COULD DO NOTHING
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito presented May 30 a bill to establish an oversight organ, Investigation Committee to Oversee Information, in both of the Diet Houses in order to check legitimacy of information classified specially by the government (a bill to revise the National Diet Act). The General Council of LDP had held a meeting May 27, when members had argued and objected on penalties, for instance, expulsion from the party, to be imposed on MPs who might leak secrets. The LDP had not reached an accord within it.
Political Parties Need to Submit Bill to Repeal Law
If the secret protection act is enforced, bureaucrat-led politics may be reinforced: information will be monopolized by officials and MPs will face difficulties to fulfill duties. Contests on minor aspects like punishment and penalty are perhaps interesting to MPs, but the law itself is evil. It must be repealed as it undermines very existence of MPs. How is impossible for both ruling and opposition lawmakers to submit jointly a bill to scrap the law?
A decision of ruling parties says;
The Investigation Committee to Oversee Information will be set up as a standing body in both of the Houses. It consists of eight members, respectively, numerically representing factions in the Diet. Speakers and Vice-Speakers of the Houses can attend to express opinions. Meetings will be held behind the closed doors. Proceedings will be complied but not be open to the public.
The Diet’s committee will receive reports from government authorities every year on classification and declassification operations. The committee will study specified secrets with attendance of Head of administrative organ in charge which has designated confidentiality. Then the committee will ask the government to present such records, if necessary. Then it will verify confidentiality, and finally, advise to improve operations. The Committee’s ‘advise’ does not have binding force.
If the government refuses to provide specially designated secretes, the Committee will just listen to excuses.
Thus, the Diet’s committee would not be able to oversee content and validity of secrets.
If a lawmaker leaks certain secret information, he/she will be punished in compliance with the law. If such leakage is made in the Diet debates or during statements in the committee, the Constitution works and exempts such remarks of lawmakers from punishment. Later the both Houses would discuss retribution.
Diet staffs who work for the secretariat of the oversight committee will be screened for ‘eligibility’ as they may have chances to touch secrets.
Not Overseeing, but Ratifying Body
Can the committee oversee secrets? A body called Investigation Committee to Oversee Information just confirms as secret what a government organ classifies. That is too absurd.
Then, let’s look at a third party organ to be put inside the government. The Abe government hastily proposed four panels last December when the law was voted to approve with force; they are Council of Protection and Oversight of Information inside the Cabinet Secretariat, Independent Archive Control Section and Information Protection and Observation Section inside the Cabinet Office and Advisory Council for Information Protection which is composed of experts and specialists.
It is absolutely contradictory to put a third party organ inside the government. It is too outrageous to comment further.
June 10, 2014