May 31, 2017
BERLIN-The Japanese government should revise its state secrecy law to avoid any chilling effects on the work of journalists, David Kaye, UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said Tuesday.
Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, made the recommendation in a draft report on his visit to Japan in April last year. The report was published on a UN website.
The report said the law to designate state secrets should include an exception to "guarantee that no individual--neither journalists nor government employees--is punished for disclosing information of public interest that does not harm national security."
In response, the Japanese government said, "The draft report regrettably contain inaccurate and insufficient statements on the actual situation in Japan and Japanese culture, as well as arguments not based on objective information." The response was also made public on the UN website.
Kaye will present the report at a session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 12. A Japanese delegate is expected to argue against the report again in the meeting.
Kaye's report also urged Japan to strengthen the independence of the country's broadcast media, which is overseen by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
"Under international standards, broadcast regulation should be conducted by an independent third-party actor," the report said. It encouraged Japan to "repeal Article 4 of the Broadcast Act," which requires political fairness of the media, "in order to strengthen media independence by removing the legal basis for state interference."
In addition, the report called on the government to refrain from interfering in the interpretation of historical events in educational materials. It stressed the need for the government to support efforts to inform the public on serious crimes, "paying particular attention to events related to Japan's involvement in the Second World War." (Jiji Press)
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