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2014 March 26 - April 1 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Freelance journalists take state secrecy law to court

March 29, 2014
Demanding that the government refrain from enforcing the state secrets protection law as it violates the Constitution, 43 freelance journalists and editors on March 28 filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court.

The secrecy law was forcibly enacted by the Abe Cabinet last December in defiance of public opposition and will take effect by the end of this year.

The plaintiffs’ complaint points out that the law infringes on various human rights regarding privacy, freedom of the press, people’s right to know, and academic freedom. The controversial legislation also goes against the principles of popular sovereignty and pacifism on the grounds that it prevents the general public from obtaining the information needed to make a judgment about political matters, the document states.

It also criticizes the law for lacking any provision for a third-party organization to monitor the scope of information which is covered by the law.

At a press conference held after the filing, Fujisawa Tamotsu, a journalist, said, “We will use our court battle to attract public attention to the problems of the law which was passed through the Diet without sufficient discussion.”

Fujino Kotaro, a freelance writer and editor, stated, “One of my interviewees already showed a negative attitude, saying, ‘I will not be able to provide you with material because of the secrecy law.’”

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Hori Toshiaki pointed out that protecting freelance journalists will secure the people’s right to know. He expressed the hope that the court action will lead to actions in a wide variety of fields standing in opposition to the state secrets law.
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