Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The Three Media Laws and Their Lack of Historical Perspective
TSUJII Takashi / Author

June 4, 2002
Why has the government chosen this particular time to begin consideration of a succession of bills - the Personal Information Protection Law, the Human Rights Protection Law and the Basic Law on Social Environment for Young People, collectively referred to as the ‘Three Media Regulation Laws?’ Thinking about this issue provides insight into the various problems and dangers that lie hidden in today’s society.

It is perhaps true that behind these three laws lie the disintegration of moral values and the slackening of humane sensitivities and feelings in Japanese society, and a sense of crisis over the emergence of an information society within this context. While the subjective intentions of the laws’ proponents may have originated in such a sense of crisis, it is doubtful whether the introduction of the three laws would do any good in avoiding the crisis. One might correctly diagnose the disease, but unless the treatment is right, conditions may take a turn for the worse.

A reading of the three proposed bills reveals common characteristics as illustrated by the following three points:

One of the points is that the subject in the decision-making process is obscure. In other words, it isn’t clear who defines the abuse of personal information, who makes the judgement that certain information, visual images and publications are “exerting a negative influence in the development of values concerning sex or violence” among the youth, and who concludes that an action violates human rights with reference to “the principles of the Japanese Constitution, which guarantees human rights and equality under the law.” Will the decisions be made by leaders in favor of revising the Constitution, or those trying to maintain it?

The second point is that while today’s society may be faced with a crisis, it is doubtful whether the varied aspects of that crisis could be avoided by suppressing freedom of opinion and expression. By depriving individuals of their independence of expression could deepen the crisis instead.

Today’s social crisis has its true cause rather in the exhaustion and degradation of the system that had controlled politics and the economy in the past, as well as the prevalence of bureaucracy in public administration, and if political leaders who are at the source of the crisis think they can correct society by implementing new laws without cleaning up their own act, they have their logic upside down.

The third point is the lack of historical perspective on the part of those promoting the laws. In the past, the notorious Law for the Maintenance of Law and Order had been created under the guise of controlling Socialist extremism. At the time, the law was enacted because many people feared socialism itself amid a global shortage of information. And this led to the crackdown and suppression of all opinions critical of the government as being detrimental to social stability.

As with the proposed Emergency Security Bills, we are better off without laws which carry the potential danger of being arbitrarily manipulated by the government in power. From this viewpoint, advocates of the three media regulation laws should acquire an accurate perception of history - how a series of legislation imbued with the nature of suppressing freedom of opinion, expression and religion were abused by groups which maneuvered to expand the war and consequently led Japan into ruin.

Years ago in Germany, when extreme rightists murdered immigrant workers by setting fire to their homes, ex-Prime Minister Helmut Schmidt took to the streets and led a protest demonstration for the sake of human rights. Rather than introduce dangerously double-edged laws under a fine name, what Japan needs now are leaders who demonstrate their will to fight for ideals through their actions.

The writer is author and poet. He contributed this comment to the Asashi Shimbun.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

辻井 喬 / 作家

2002年 6月 4日









一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The Three Media Laws and Their Lack of Historical Perspective