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Japanese Media Protest Bill Aimed At Curbing Press Freedom

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association has protested the alleged move of the governmnet to bring in a secrecy bill which could harm freedom of information.

The Association on Wednesday lodged a protest with the government over the proposed legislation that designates and protects classified information related to national security, calling them "specified secrets," Japanese media reported.

The bill, proposed to be passed in the autumn session of the Diet (Parliament), mandates a ten-year prison term for public officials who leak information specified under its provisions.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association includes the NHK public broadcaster, other TV channels and news agencies like Kyodo.

The proposed bill is ambiguous about the scope of the "specified secrets" and it lacks a system to check them, the Association said in a statement, and warned that the government could arbitrarily classify information in this way, concealing information necessary for Japanese people to know.

Harsh punishment proposed in the bill could inhibit public officials from passing necessary information to the media and hinder legitimate news gathering, it said and reminded the government that freedom of the press is a fundamental element of democracy and the bill could interfere with that process.

by RTT Staff Writer

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