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November 21, 2013

Japanese fight proposed secrets law

Demonstrations against proposed state secrets bill that critics say would leave the public in the dark.
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Protesters shout slogans during a march against the government's planned secrecy law, in Tokyo November 21, 2013. REUTERS/ISSEI KATO

Thousands of protesters turned out in Tokyo to oppose a proposed law that critics say would allow the government to hide information from the public and stifle the press. 
 
The bill would dramatically expand the definition of state secrets and punish those who reveal them with up to five years in prison. Supporters have pushed for the bill to classify state secrets for up to 60 years. 
 
Opponents, however, say that it is too broad and could allow the government to stifle investigations and whistle-blowing. Many have pointed to ongoing controversies over government misconduct in the Fukushima disaster and clean-up efforts as examples of the dangers of allowing tougher restrictions on information.
 
The government says the law is needed to better protect sensitive information and increase security coordination with other countries. The government majority in parliament is expected to pass the bill when it comes to a vote next week, but organisers reported that 10,000 people came to show their protest. 
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