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Will history repeat itself?

Prewar gov't also reassured no expansion of secrets agenda

The former Home Ministry's documents list examples of round-ups on suspicion of violating the then military secrets protection law. In one case, a person was severely admonished on the grounds of taking pictures of military installations from train windows. Mainichi! "hile #rime Minister $hin%o &'e has reassured the (apanese pu'lic that the scope of secret information to 'e designated under the state secrets protection legislation now under )iet de'ate wouldn't expand endlessly, prewar history shows a sheer a'out-face 'y the government despite similar assurances. *+oncerns that the scope of secret information could expand indefinitely are a'solutely not necessary,* said #rime Minister &'e during a House of ,epresentatives $pecial +ommittee on -ational $ecurity session discussing the state secrets protection 'ill on -ov. ./. The controversial 'ill was su'se0uently rammed through the lower house and is now under de'ate in the House of +ouncillors. However, past documents show that the prewar government made closely resem'ling answers during parliamentary de'ates on the then secret protection legislation, raising 0uestions a'out whether the government's answers during deli'erations of a 'ill can 'e trusted. In &ugust 1234, the then Imperial )iet was discussing revisions to the military secrets protection law, which were aimed at punishing leakers and collectors of military secrets. 5ecause the scope of secrets was am'iguous and was to 'e specified in ministerial ordinances, lawmakers raised 0uestion after 0uestion during a House of ,epresentatives committee session. *+ameras have 'ecome a fad among students and mem'ers of the pu'lic. "hat if a person goes out for a swim or other events and inadvertently takes a picture with military installations in the 'ackground6* 0uestioned one lawmaker, while another said, *The pu'lic may have fears that they can never talk a'out military affairs.* In response to these 0uestions, 7umeshiro 7ato, then parliamentary undersecretary of the &rmy Ministry, stated, *"e have adopted the policy of listing secrets in ministerial ordinances so that

the pu'lic's human rights wouldn't 'e infringed upon if they 'reached military secrets without reali%ing.* He also said, *Military secrets are highly sophisticated and there shouldn't 'e that many.* However, history thereafter didn't go as 7ato had reassured. 8ver since the revised military secrets protection law came into force in 9cto'er that year, a large num'er of citi%ens were rounded up :ust 'ecause their ho''y pictures incidentally showed military facilities and 'ecause those engaged in military-related work talked a'out their :o's to their friends and family mem'ers. &ccording to documents of the former Home Ministry, a senior official of the fishmongers' association at Tokyo's Tsuki:i market was charged in 12;< 'ecause he used an aerial photograph of the market in its 'rochure for association mem'ers. &t that time, duplicating pictures taken from an altitude of more than 1< meters in ur'an areas was prohi'ited under the &rmy Ministry ordinance. In 12;1, Hokkaido =niversity student Hiroyuki Miya%awa was arrested on suspicion of violating the military secrets protection law after telling 8nglish teacher Harold >ane and his wife a'out a naval air 'ase and other matters that he saw and heard during his trips. &lthough Miya%awa pleaded innocent in the so-called *>ane-Miya%awa Incident,* he was sentenced to 1? years in prison and died of illness shortly after he was released from prison following the end of "orld "ar II. @urthermore, the government introduced the national defense and pu'lic security law in 12;1, which expanded the scope of secrets to information on diplomacy, finance and the economy. &lthough the legislation faced )iet opposition, the government rammed it through 'y emphasi%ing *the su'tleties of international affairs.* The prewar military secrets protection law was originally legislated in 1A22 during the Mei:i period. The law was eventually revised entirely in 1234 on the grounds that intelligence activities 'y other countries were 'ecoming active and astute amid growing tensions 'etween (apan and +hina. The revised law roughly categori%ed secrets and newly introduced 'ans on access to military-related areas and punishments on the formation of *spy groups.* The law, whose maximum sentence was the death penalty, was a'olished after "orld "ar II.

)ecem'er <3, .<13 Mainichi (apan!