Japan parliament approves contentious secrets law

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Japan Secrets Law.JPEG-0241d

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/japan-parliament-approves-contentious-secrets-law/2013/12/06/db70878a-5ee0-11e3-8d24-31c016b976b2_story.html

Japan’s parliament approved a state secrets law that stiffens penalties for leaks by government officials and for journalists who seek such information, overriding criticism that it could be used to cover up government abuses and suppress civil liberties.

Despite stalling tactics by opposition parties, the full upper house approved the bill on Friday by 130 to 82. The more powerful lower house passed the bill last week.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is seeking to increase Japan’s global security role and create a more authoritarian government at home, says the law is needed to protect national security and assuage U.S. concerns over the risks of sharing strategically sensitive information with Tokyo.

Critics worry the law could be used to hinder public disclosures, punish whistleblowers or muzzle the media since journalists could be jailed for seeking information they do not know is classified as secret.

It allows heads of ministries…

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