Letter to the Editor: Secrecy Act

Editor’s note: Following the publication of this article, the bill was passed on December 6, 2013, and put into effect on December 13, 2013.

Few Christians have spoken against the Bill of the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets (the Secrecy Act), except those in the media and press industries. It may be because people do not see immediately how the bill relates to life as a Christian. It is true that the Secrecy Act pertains to defense, foreign affairs, spying, and terrorism—four areas that Japanese Christians do not usually associate themselves with.

However, when we look back on the history of Japan, there was a time during World War II, when the Salvation Army was held suspect of spying, and the tenet of the Second Coming of the Holiness churches was labeled a terrorist idea. Both of these allegations and the ensuing persecution came as a surprise to believers in those days. Therefore, it may be worth taking a closer look at the bill so that we will not be caught by surprise again.

The one major concern about the Secrecy Act is that the government seems to have too much discretion in deciding what constitutes “specially designated secrets.” We need a system of checks and balances to prevent the people in power from abusing the law. Remember, when the Maintenance of the Public Order Act was amended in 1941, hardly anyone saw that it would subsequently be applied to the press and religious leaders as well.

The loose definition of “specially designated secrets” may also work restrictively toward freedom of expression. People would self-censor their work so they might not be accused of violating the Secrecy Act.

With pain, we must remember how Japanese Christians, in general, willfully obeyed the policies of the nationalistic government until 1945. Most church leaders of the day encouraged their members to exalt the Emperor, to cooperate in the war effort, and to pay respect at the Shinto shrine. So much so that those leaders turned their back to the Christians actually under government persecution.

Are we going to compromise our faith at some seemingly minor points, so that we will appear obedient to those in power and be safe? The Secrecy Act poses a temptation to us. 

By Sakae Kaminaka, Pastor, Kugenuma Holiness Church
From Christian Shimbun, November 13, 2013
Excerpt translated by Atsuko Tateishi

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