Students Staff

11 December 2013

Essex graduate calls for action over Japan’s special secrets law

Dr Sanae Fujita

Dr Sanae Fujita

A University of Essex graduate, who brought Japan’s special secrets bill to the attention of the United Nations (UN) when she translated it into English, has called on the international community to act against the law which she claims has “completely destroyed” democracy in her country.

Dr Sanae Fujita, from Osaka, worked with fellow Essex graduate Saul Takahashi, to translate the bill on behalf of human rights organisation Article 19. Together with Article 19, she has lobbied the UN to intervene and received support from the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and the right to health.

Despite calls for amendments from the UN, and public outcry in Japan that has seen thousands take to the streets in protest, the special secrets bill was passed into law on 6 December, a day Dr Fujita describes as one of “regret and humiliation” for the Japanese people.

It is alleged the new bill threatens transparency and might not comply with international human rights standards on freedom of expression and the right to information.

In its condemnation of the bill prior to it passing into law, Article 19 drew attention to its vague definition of what constitutes ‘protected information’ and the potential imprisonment of whistle-blowers and journalists who release information.

According to Dr Fujita, “any information that is not convenient for Government can be secret,” including information relating to nuclear plants such as Fukushima.

As well as Article 19, the human rights organisation Open Society has called for action against the law which has been covered in the UK media by the BBC and The Guardian.

Dr Fujita, who now works at the University, completed her PhD in Law at Essex

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For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or email:

Dr Sanae Fujita is a teacher and associate in the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and School of Law.

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