As Quakers, based on our religious beliefs, believe in the importance of peace and human rights.
Currently the extraordinary session of the Diet is debating the Special Secrecy Law (Act on Protection of Specified Secrets). This law is an incredibly dangerous piece of legislation that infringes on the freedom of speech and expression in the same way as the Military Secrets Legislation that existed during the Second World War.
Why a Special Secrecy Law now?
The Cabinet has identified (1) Defense (2) Foreign Affairs (3) Espionage (4) Anti-terrorism operations as areas where secrecy is essential. The Law is something that the United States has required Japan to enact in order to participate in collective defense. In order for Japanese/US military cooperation to continue, it was considered essential to enact a law protecting secrets.
The objects of this law are civilians working in sensitive areas, such as public servants, police officers, or people working in the defense industry. In addition to the primary objects of the legislation, anyone who induces any of those people to disclose secret information will also be guilty of a crime. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.
Quakers and False Accusations of Spying
The Special Secrecy Law will affect not only the people specifically targeted by the Law, but also people who are suspected of terrorism or spying. There is a danger of false accusations, and ordinary citizens such as ourselves will not be unaffected. During the Second World War, an American Quaker was imprisoned under the Military Secrets Legislation (as a suspected spy).
Harold Lane, born in Ohio and a graduate of a Quaker University, was invited to teach at the Hokkaido Imperial University. Together with the other Foreign Instructors, he started a group where students and teachers could engage in free discussions, and a large number of students with interest in foreign culture took part. One of those students, Hiroyuki Miyazawa, told Lane about what he had seen and heard during his travels through Hokkaido and North Eastern China.
On December 8, 1941, Lane and his wife, together with several students, including Hiroyuki Miyazawa, were arrested "on suspicion of espionage". The information that Miyazawa had provided Lane was nothing more than the personal experiences of a University student, and could not be called "Military", but all of the suspects were sentenced to imprisonment. Harold and Miyazawa were given the maximum penalty of 15 years hard labour, Lane's wife [??name??] was sentenced to 12 years. The Lanes were repatriated in a US Japan prisoner exchange in 1941, but Miyazawa in the depths of winter in the Abashiri prison, was weakened, and although he was released after the war, he died of illness one year later.
We oppose the Special Secrecy Law
We fear that false accusations of spying, as happened to the Lanes and Miyazawa, will happen again.
We oppose the Special Secrecy Law because it infringes on the human rights of citizens
We oppose the Special Secrecy Law because it threatens the public's right to know what their government is doing.
We oppose the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets because we feel it is leading to the remilitarization of Japan.
October 20, 2013
Tokyo Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Japan
We are opposed to the Special Secrecy Law