Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
Blog [Japanese]
HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 December 4 - 10  > We won’t tolerate return to ‘wartime period’: Akahata editor
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2013 December 4 - 10 TOP3 [POLITICS]

We won’t tolerate return to ‘wartime period’: Akahata editor

December 8, 2013
The ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties forcibly enacted a state secrets protection bill on the night of December 6. The following is an op-ed article written by Akahata’s chief political editor Fujita Ken:

The state secrets bill became law in only about one month after being submitted to the Diet. The period of time spent discussing the bill in both chambers was less than 70 hours. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo scarcely attended the meetings in the Diet, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide was also often absent in disregard of requests from the opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party.

A cabinet minister who had no authority for the draft law repeatedly gave nonsense accounts during the deliberations. The government and the ruling camp “revised” the bill over and over again, and at the last minute they promised to set up three to four “independent” panels to oversee the operation of the law. However, these panels are to be set up within the administration with no legal guarantees. This reveals how defective and shoddy the act is.

The secrecy law gives a free hand to state authorities to designate any administrative information as state secrets. It will also violate the privacy of persons with access to classified information as well as impose harsh punishments on those who try to have such information released. This act infringes upon the sovereignty of the people, fundamental human rights, and pacifism, all of which are guaranteed under the Constitution.

As we have pointed out in our paper, the state secrets law is exactly like the wartime National Defense Security Law that was enacted in 1941 for the purpose of enabling the daily monitoring of the general public. A lot of people are concerned about a possibility of a return to those days, in which anti-war movements were suppressed, free speech was clamped down on, and the public was mobilized for the war of aggression.

There is, however, a critical difference between then and now.

First of all, we have the postwar Constitution of Japan. In contrast with the National Defense Security Law that was approved under the Meiji Constitution of the Great Empire of Japan, the secrecy law is in direct violation of the current supreme law. Such an unconstitutional law cannot be allowed, even though the ruling bloc railroaded it through with their majority vote.

And in the present era, there are many people seeking to protect peace and democracy. In a short period of time, public opposition to the measure increased on an unprecedented scale among various groups of people, including lawyers, journalists, scholars and researchers, theatrical and movie people, religious figures, civic groups, and NPOs.

Prime Minister Abe said, “Though there were objections to the enactment of the peacekeeping operations (PKO) act in 1992, Japan has contributed to world peace since then. What was the need for opposition at that time?” The point that needs to be made is that the Self-Defense Forces have never fired a single bullet and none of its members have been killed in its overseas operations thanks to the existence of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution and Japan’s public opinion opposing any type of aggression. Former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Yanagisawa Kyoji, who dealt with dispatching the SDF troops to Iraq, recently said, “The need now is to take pride in the pacifist Constitution and maintain its basic principles.”

Furthermore, the Japanese Communist Party, which had been suppressed in the past, is now waging a head-on confrontation with the Abe Cabinet’s policies. A House of Councilors plenary session witnessed the LDP-JCP confrontation where a JCP representative was the only legislator to deliver a speech in opposition to the secrets bill while the LDP was the only party expressing clear support for the bill.

Agreeing with the ruling bloc to “modify” the bill in the Lower House, the Japan Restoration Party and the Your Party have shown their true color as the forces supporting the old LDP style-politics. The JRP declared its support to the ruling coalition by voting against a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet. The Your Party faced criticism from its own lawmakers when it decided to take the side of the prime minister.

The Democratic Party of Japan failed to maintain its opposition to the bill as it exited the plenary session right before the voting took place as well as voted for a law to install a national security council which is linked to the secrets protection law in Abe’s moves to create a war-fighting nation.

At the Upper House, however, these opposition parties agreed to urge the ruling parties to have more careful deliberation on the bill due to public pressure as well as the presence of the JCP.

“Let us start a new struggle today to have the secrets protection law scrapped,” said JCP Chair Shii Kazuo at a JCP Dietmembers’ meeting following the forcible passage of the bill on December 6 with his strong determination to prevent Japan from returning to the dark period.

> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved