As thousands of protesters gathered outside of Japan’s parliament for the second day in a row Friday, lawmakers officially enacted a controversial “state secrets” bill that will criminalize public officials, private citizens and journalists who leak information from the state.
Under the new law, which was pushed by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, public officials could face up to 10 years in prison for exposing “state secrets,” which could include “sensitive information about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the country’s souring relations with China,” as The Guardian reports. Journalists who seek out classified information could face up to five years.
“The chief criticism of the bill is its vague definition of what constitutes a state secret, potentially giving officials carte blanche to block the release of information on a vast range of subjects,” The Guardian adds.
As Reuters notes, “The passing of the law coincides with a worldwide debate on secrecy after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents and a U.S. Army private leaked information to anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.”
Critics say the bill will strangle media freedoms and help cover up wrongdoings inside of the government.
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