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Japan: Gov't Seeks Steps to Improve Protection of Classified Information
Source: japantoday.com
Source Date: Friday, December 10, 2010
Focus: Health
Country: Japan
Created: Dec 13, 2010

A government panel launched Thursday is looking for ideas on improving Japan’s handling of classified information, following recent leaking of investigative data at home and U.S. diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks.

During the panel’s first meeting, the government decided to review the law and the current system for managing classified information, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan decided to set up the panel after the release onto the Internet last month of sealed video footage showing September collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol boats that reignited a territorial row between Asia’s two largest economies.

The meeting was also held at a time when Japanese officials, as with many others around the world, are concerned about the release of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables by the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website.

In recent years, information technology and the (digital) network society have been developing significantly and there is a question about whether the government has appropriately responded to this kind of changing environment,’’ Sengoku, who heads the panel, said at the outset of the meeting, which opened to reporters.

The panel is planning to put together a set of proposals by next spring, according to government officials.

After the meeting, Sengoku told a news conference that the public’s right to information and freedom of the press are ‘‘the basics of modern society but that it may well be that a certain amount of restrictions are necessary.’‘

Some critics are concerned about possible actions by the government to impose stricter discipline on government officials regarding information management, saying that this could run counter to the public’s right to know.
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