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Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks

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We’ll likely never know what Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and Donald Trump really talked about during Abe’s recent extended visit at the so-called Winter White House last weekend. But it’s interesting to speculate, especially given the events of subsequent days.

Trump has been tweeting and complaining bitterly about “illegal” leaks to “fake news” media, and classified information “illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy.”

Japan’s Abe has had his own battles with the press, and in December 2013 he took very decisive action. Under special legislation, public officials and private citizens who leak “special state secrets” face prison terms of up to

10 years, while journalists who obtain such classified information can get similar jail terms.

Even more draconian, the Japanese legislation is entirely vague about what constitutes a state secret. Critics say it gives officials “carte blanche to block the release of information on a vast range of subjects,” including the country’s nuclear reactors. [1]

The legislation was enacted in the years following the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of March 2011. Dr. Helen Caldicott recently wrote (Feb. 13, 2017), “Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the [Fukushima] situation could be gaoled for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.” [2]

Further, under the Japanese legislation the prime minister “can decide by himself what constitutes a [state] secret,” while “police raids of newspapers suspected of breaking the law” had not been ruled out by Japan’s justice minister as of December 2013. When this “special state secrets law” was initially exposed, Reporters Without Borders accused Japan of “making investigative journalism illegal.” [3]
The subsequent dearth of information about Japan’s “special” legislation is itself indicative of its power. Call it secrecy about a state secrets law protecting secrecy. Did Prime Minister Abe provide some helpful tips to Trump for dealing with leaks? Unless there’s a leak, we’ll never know.

Notes:

[1] Justin McCurry, “Japan whistleblowers face crackdown under proposed state secrets law,” The Guardian, December 5, 2013.

[2] Helen Caldicott, “Helen Caldicott: The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated,” Independentaustralia.net, February 13, 2017.

[3] McCurry, op. cit.

Joyce Nelson’s sixth book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, can be ordered at: http://watershedsentinel.ca/banksters. She can be reached through www.joycenelson.ca.

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