Japan secrecy law takes effect

Tokyo – A law giving the Japanese government greater powers to classify and protect state secrets took effect Wednesday, a year after the controversial bill was approved by parliament.

Those found guilty of violating the new law by leaking sensitive information could face up to 10 years in prison, compared to the one-year sentence that whistleblowers have faced until now.

The law allows government ministries and agencies to designate as state secrets information considered to be sensitive in the areas of diplomacy, defence, counterterrorism and counterespionage, Kyodo News agency reported.

Critics say the wording of the law is too vague and it threatens freedom of speech, including by the media.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the law is necessary to enable Japan to share intelligence with its allies.

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