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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 November 20 - 26  > Writers’ international NGO opposes Japan’s state secrets protection bill
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2013 November 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

Writers’ international NGO opposes Japan’s state secrets protection bill

November 21, 2013
An international NGO consisting of more than 20,000 writers and journalists worldwide expressed its opposition to the Japanese government’s state secrets protection bill.

PEN International on November 20 in Tokyo issued a statement in protest against the bill under the name of President John Ralston Saul (Canadian novelist) in a joint press conference with the Japan P.E.N. Club.

This is the first time for the international group, which was founded in 1921, to voice its protest against Japanese government policies in regard to freedom of speech and expression since the end of WWII.

The PEN statement criticizes the bill as intending to undermine citizens’ freedom of information and expression while conferring undue power to politicians and government bureaucrats.

On the previous day, the Japanese Historical Council, which includes 47 major groups in historical studies, published its urgent statement in protest against the bill.

The statement points out, “The bill takes a military-first stance which is incompatible with the constitutional principle of peace.” It also states that the bill, if enacted, will make it impossible for scholars to examine various perspectives in history and obstruct historical studies.

Council member Fukuto Sanae said, “Under a secrets protection law, historical materials would be arbitrarily classified and possibly destroyed. Furthermore, if people try to obtain these materials, they could be punished. The government should handle official documents as property, not secrets, and establish rules on archiving and publishing such documents.”
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