Hon. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
December 7, 2013
Statement of Protest
We Strongly Protest the Steamrolling of the Special Secrets Bill
We, the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, religious leaders who respect the basic principles of the Constitution of Japan and seek a free and peaceful society where human dignity is protected, strongly protest the steamrolling of the Special Secrets Bill on November 26 in the Lower House and on December 6 in the Upper House of the Diet.
The Special Secrets Bill, which was adopted this time, is so momentous that it could possibly shake the constitutional foundation of Japan. The bill presents a danger of violating the three basic principles of the Constitution, namely the principle that sovereignty resides in the people, the respect of basic human rights and pacifism, as stated below. Therefore citizens and organizations at all levels including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations have raised voices and demanded that the bill be rejected.
Such a significant bill must never be steamrolled without having sufficient discussion or offering convincing explanation. However, it was railroaded unilaterally by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and others by wielding majority power. We can never accept such conduct because it threatens the foundation of democracy by neglecting public opinion that opposes the bill’s enactment.
We are deeply concerned that this Special Secret Bill has the following defects.
- The fact that the administrative organs specify the Special Secrets means that the Diet is positioned below administrative organs. Such a situation contradicts the democratic system in Japan. In addition, the scope of the “secrets” remains ambiguous and the administration can decide arbitrarily whether any case is to be designated as a secret. Under the current situation where an efficient information disclosure system is still absent, a wide variety of matters can be specified as secrets when the bill is applied to defense, diplomacy and the prevention of particularly harmful activities and terrorism.
- Democratic decision-making rests on the premise that information is disclosed, while democracy is brought about by citizen’s entrustment. Yet, this bill may possibly restrain Diet members’ right to conduct legislative investigations. Deliberation based on accurate information ought to be guaranteed in the Diet. However, information offered to the Diet will be restricted by this bill so that the principle that sovereignty resides in the people will be undermined.
- There is a risk that the citizens’ right to know will be largely restricted by this bill so that basic human rights such as freedom of the press, expression and publication will be threatened. Moreover, the aptitude evaluation system introduced to choose those who deal with secrets could lead to privacy infringement.
- If the Minister of Defense specifies a matter as a “Special Secret,” it will be carried out in secret, even if it involves such matters as the overseas deployment of the Japan Self-Defense Forces or joint operations with U.S. military forces in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution. It will shake the foundation of pacifism declared in the preface of the Constitution: “We, the Japanese people … resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government.”
- Although the solution to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Accident is still unforeseeable, the information on actual conditions such as radiation dose, effects on health and environmental contamination can be specified as a “Special Secret” under the pretext of damaging the public order by stirring anxiety among people. Then citizen’s lives and health will be exposed to additional risks.
Considering that this bill with such grave problems has caused much opposition and concern, it should have been determined only after hearing opinions from various fields and being carefully deliberated again and again. That is the way democracy should always be.
We strongly protest the recent hasty vote and demand that such steamrolling never be carried out again in the future.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada
Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, S.S.
Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka
Bishop Raphael Masahiro Umemura
Bishop Dominic Ryoji Miyahara
Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, S.V.D.
Bishop Thomas Aq. Manyo Maeda