Tokyo: Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (NSK) or the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association Monday submitted a memorandum to Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, demanding rational use of a secrecy law which will come into effect from Wednesday.
NSK noted that the controversial secrecy law, which was enacted by the Japanese parliament Dec 6 last year, might undermine the public`s right to know and the freedom of press, Xinhua reported.
Under the law, public servants or others with access to state secrets could be jailed for up to 10 years for leaking them. Journalists and others in the private sector convicted of encouraging such leaks could get up to five years if they use "grossly inappropriate" means to solicit the information.
However, the definition of "specific state secret" was so vague that it allowed the government to hide inconvenient information, said the memorandum.
The press lobby also pointed out that the sentence to people "who leak state secrets" was too heavy, which might make the public servants fall into appalling silence. Legitimate reporting activities of news organisations would also be damaged.
NSK asked for a moderate participation by the legislative institution during the implementation of the law. If "state secrets" identified by the government did not meet the standards, parliament is obliged to ask the government to abolish them, according to the memorandum.
NSK, established July 23, 1946, is an independent organisation funded and operated by the mass media of Japan. It has 130 members, including major national and provincial media such as Kyodo news agency, Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun.