Shinzo « Blackout » Abe
pictures by Teppei Sato
– Residents here are angry over the ruling bloc’s railroading of a highly controversial state secrets protection bill through the House of Representatives on the evening of Nov. 26 — just one day after voicing strong opposition to the legislation at a public hearing.
At the lower house special committee’s public hearing on the legislation held in Fukushima on Nov. 25, all of the seven local residents who were invited to state their opinions voiced opposition to or concerns about the government-sponsored secrecy bill. They voiced fear that information related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster could be designated as « special secrets. » Their opinions, however, were not reflected in Diet deliberations. Therefore, they became infuriated at the quick-and-dirty passage of the bill through the lower house. One of the residents angrily said, « How far are they going to go in fooling us? »
Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, who had stated his opinion at the public hearing, said on Nov. 26, « I was surprised because the public hearing was held yesterday, and the bill was passed today. What was the public hearing for? What did I attend the public hearing for? I don’t have the faintest idea. » He then raised his voice and said, « That was too hasty. There should be much more discussion. »
Mitsugi Araki, a lawyer who stated his opinion at the public hearing, also said furiously, « That trampled on the sentiments of the Fukushima people. » He went on to say, « We were feeling that our opinions could be used as an excuse. But still, all of us spoke up with our utmost efforts. But our thoughts were ignored. » However, the bill has not been enacted yet. Araki added, « I want legislators to discuss it carefully. »
Saki Okawara, a 61-year-old resident of Miharu, said, « The public hearing was something like a sneak attack. Okawara went to the venue for the public hearing, but was not able to sit in on the hearing. Tickets to the hearing were distributed to political parties and many people who have no connections with political parties did not even know the public hearing had been planned, Okawara said. « Fukushima was nothing but one of the pieces leading up to the vote. Even if we raise our voice, it would never be heard. It is sad that politicians don’t have any intention to accept our opinions, » Okawara said.
Kazue Morizono, a 51-year-old housewife from Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, who could not sit in on the hearing, raised her voice and said, « I was sort of hoping that the frank opinions of the speakers would put on the brakes. But how far are they going to go and try to fool Fukushima? » She went on to say, « Because our relationship of trust with the government has crumbled this far, it would affect not only the bill but also every piece of reconstruction work. »
Reiko Hachisuka, 61, who had served as a member of the Diet’s investigation committee on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, said, « I hope information involving the lives of residents will not be made secret. The government must have learned lessons from the accident. I want the government to distinguish between information it needs to safeguard and information involving people’s lives and handle such information in good faith. »
Meanwhile, about 300 members of women’s groups marched through the Ginza shopping street in central Tokyo to protest against the secrecy bill on Nov. 26. Members of women’s groups from around the country took part in the rally proposed by writer Karin Amamiya. Carrying placards, some of which read: « What is secret? » and « That is secret, » they shouted, « We will never tolerate forcible passage (of the bill). » The rally started after the bill was railroaded through the lower house special panel on security. Yuri Horie, president of the Japan Federation of Women’s Organizations (Fudanren), said, « We must not allow for a repeat of the mistake that lead to the war with women’s eyes, ears and mouths shut off. »
A separate protest rally was also held near the Diet building in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district until around 9 p.m. on Nov. 26. When protesters heard the news that the lower house plenary session had just passed the bill, they shouted, « No! » and « Kill the bill! »
« 闇 » … 国民の知る権利は失効した
Blackout – Your right to know has been revoked
The Secrecy Bill
Under the bill, anyone who will be convicted of leaking “special secrets” or any information that concerns diplomacy, defense, counter-terrorism 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.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also roundly criticized the LDP – the country’s ruling bloc – for its actions in the Lower House. “Since the bill could render popular sovereignty a mere shell, the ruling coalition disrespected the will of the people by forcing it through the chamber,” according to the statement released by the organization. “The action goes against the basic principle of popular sovereignty in a double sense.”
Continuous protest has been promised by writers, academics and journalists against the state secrets protection bill, even as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) pushed the legislation through the Lower House on Tuesday. Critics say that this control of the legislative process and the legislation itself is a dangerous step backward for Japan. The secrecy bill has been criticized widely for its vague wording that could lead to arbitrary designations of information as “secret” and scare off journalists and whistle-blowers.
“The citizens’ voices that the bill is dangerous will not end today,” Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, said in a news conference at the Diet on Nov. 26. “Our experience of the March 2011 (Fukushima) nuclear accident will fuel the movement against the state secrets protection bill,” Oe said. “As a result, the movement will have tremendous power.”
I say you are very right Oe sensei !
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