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Thousands gather to protest secrecy law in Japan

IANS  |  Tokyo 

About 1,600 people gathered in Tokyo and around 700 in Nagoya Saturday to protest against Japan's controversial secrecy law which was enacted a year ago.

The protesters rallied in Tokyo's Hibiya Park located near the Imperial Palace, and later marched to the Ginza district, the most exclusive shopping district of the city, Xinhua reported.

They said the legislation undermines the public's right to know and helps cover up official misdeeds. They vowed to continue their fight to have it scrapped as the law, which will toughen penalties on those who leak state secrets, is set to take effect Dec 10.

"We will not cower and will keep fighting for the abolition of the law," lawyer Yuichi Kaido, an organiser of the Tokyo rally, told reporters.

On Dec 6, 2013, the Japanese parliament enacted the controversial secrecy law despite strong public protests and criticism. A national survey showed that more than 50 percent citizens oppose the bill.

Under the law, public servants or others with access to state secrets could be jailed for up to 10 years if they leaked them. Journalists and others in the private sector convicted of encouraging such leaks could get up to five years' jail term if they use "grossly inappropriate" means to solicit information.

Taro Takahashi, 58, said its broad and vague definition of what constitutes a secret will only further strengthen Japan's already-secretive central bureaucrats. "We should not make society even darker,"he said.

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First Published: Sat, December 06 2014. 19:56 IST