KUWAIT CITY--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized that proper attention will be paid to journalistic rights as his administration pushes to have a state secrets protection bill submitted to the Diet during the autumn session.
"We will take into account the freedom of reporting and study instances abroad in proceeding with discussions on the matter," Abe said Aug. 26 in answering questions from reporters during his stay in this Persian Gulf city.
A project team of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was expected to enter earnest discussions on the state secrets protection bill on Aug. 27.
The Abe administration’s plan, which would set prison terms of up to 10 years for government employees who leak specifically designated confidential state information, has raised concerns over possible restrictions on reporting activities by media organizations.
"Retention of secrets is of utmost importance," Abe said. "The current system would not allow a (planned Japanese version of the U.S.) national security council to function fully."
He added that enactment of a state secrets protection law would be a "precondition for sharing information with other countries."
With regard to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Aug. 26 remarks that criticized the way Japan's government and political leaders perceive the history of Northeast Asia, the prime minister only expressed his willingness to meet his Chinese and South Korean counterparts. He did not elaborate.
"I have yet to scrutinize (Ban's) remarks in detail," he said. "What is essential for regional peace and stability is for national leaders to exchange their opinions."
Abe also stopped short of disclosing his plans about an upcoming reshuffle of LDP executives and a possible reshuffle of his own Cabinet.
"I have yet to start from a clean slate," he said. "I will have to reach my decisions before the terms expire for the party executives in September."
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