Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday defended as “necessary” an unpopular secrets law that he rushed through parliament, as a new poll showed his support rating had plunged 10 percent in a month.
The conservative hawk admitted he could have better explained the new law, but insisted that it was a vital step to protect Japan and bring it into line with its allies.
“Unless our country establishes rules to manage confidential information, we cannot obtain such information from other countries,” he told reporters.
“In order to protect people’s lives and property, it was necessary to pass the special secrecy law as quickly as possible.”
The bill, which vastly broadens the scope of information that ministers can designate as a state secret, was railroaded through both chambers in just a month, thanks to the handsome majority Abe commands in the two houses.
Supporters have claimed Japan’s notoriously leaky government machine needs to be plugged to help support the creation of a new US-style National Security Council, and to encourage ally Washington to share its secrets.
But journalists, lawyers, academics and rights groups say the law is illiberal and represents “the largest threat to democracy in postwar Japan”. They claim it undermines press freedoms and the public’s right to know.
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