Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?


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Hi Blog.  Continuing with this month’s theme of how a reactionary-nationalist Japan will treat its NJ and Visible Minorities in future, the article below is very indicative.  Although I did refer to it in my end-year JT roundup of Japan’s Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2014, somehow it escaped being properly put on as a single blog entry.  So here it is:  people with connections abroad will be considered a security risk and potentially be excluded from pubic service.  No doubt that will include Japanese citizens with NJ roots.  This is, in a word, odious.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Overseas work, study seen as negative point for anyone handling state secrets
KYODO DEC 8, 2014

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office has warned government offices before the new state secrecy law takes effect Wednesday that people who have studied or worked abroad have a higher risk of leaking secrets.

According to the 2011 documents obtained at the request of Kyodo News, the Cabinet Secretariat, the office that will supervise the controversial law with tougher penalties for leaking state secrets, pointed to the need to check educational and employment records in examining which public servants are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information.

Under the secrecy law, which was enacted in December last year, civil servants and others who leak sensitive information on foreign policy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage face up to 10 years in prison.

The legislation has drawn criticism over the possibility of arbitrary classification of state secrets that will undermine the people’s right to information.

The government plans to screen those who may be given access to state secrets, including public servants and defense industry workers.

Their background, links to spying or terrorism, mental condition, criminal records, drug use, drinking habits and debts will be checked. Only those who are believed to have no risk of leaking secrets will be approved to handle classified information.

Those being vetted will be asked about their educational history from high school and employment record over the past 10 years.

The documents presented by the intelligence and research office at a meeting with other government bodies in November 2011 state that the experience of attending schools overseas or foreign schools in Japan as well as working abroad or working for foreign companies “could be an opportunity to nurture a special feeling about foreign countries.”

The papers said such people “tend to be influenced by” approaches from foreign countries and there is a “risk” that they “prioritize the benefits of foreign countries and voluntarily leak secrets.”

The office of the Cabinet Secretariat said that academic and employment backgrounds are just “one of the check points” and will not solely decide who is deemed capable of dealing with classified information.

The office said the view of overseas experience was presented as part of a free exchange of opinions with other government entities to create an effective system to control state secrets.

Masahiro Usaki, a professor at Dokkyo Law School who is familiar with the secrecy law, said that “the government has been encouraging young people to go abroad amid the trend of globalization. So it doesn’t make sense that it will now judge (overseas experience) as a negative factor.”

“From the viewpoint of the right to privacy, research (on people’s background) should be minimum,” Usaki added, adding that checking only final educational status would be sufficient. He also said the period of 10 years covering past employment records is too long.


4 comments on “Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Thanks for bringing this up Dr.!
    It represents a kind of repulsive ‘double-whammy’ in helping Japan further handicap itself (and I would argue that is the explicit intention);

    1. Japanese citizens with any NJ heritage will never have thier interests represented by policy makers since,
    2. The law will ensure that those who are able to become policy makers will be only the most insular, ignorant, unaware, and conservative thinking people, who by thier nature, will be unable to consider experiences outside of thier narrow own, and have a total aversion to anything (well, I was going to say ‘new’, but this is Japan, so) ‘more recent than 1945’.

    As soon as you accept that the vested interests that run this country have no interest in the wellfare of the people (lost decades, Fukushima, inflating away savings, record number of households on wellfare, no progress on womens rights, anti-democracy government junta) you can see that it’s a total ‘win-win’ for the vested interests that run Japan.

  • #1. JDG

    “…As soon as you accept that the vested interests that run this country have no interest in the wellfare of the people…”

    I don’t think, historically, that has ever been the case. The MO of the Govt has not changed, despite the so called dissolving of the Zaibatsu decades ago. Old habits die hard. The Govt looks after the companies and the companies look after the workers. Which is why the loyalty and job for life scheme was very common, especially during their boom years. That was the ‘order’ of things. But since the bursting bubble et al, such expected lines of demarcation are problematic….whose interest is it for these now very common part-time contracts for example….not the workers…and who drew them up – yup. Case closed.

    Anyone who thinks that the J.Govt looks after the citizen J or NJ is fooling themselves….never has and never will.

  • This, to me, is a non-story. I know of no governments that do not tag foreign contact (particularly long standing familiarity or actions of establishment…ie owning foreign property or bank accounts) as a negative when looking at security clearances and handling government secrets. They are correct in speaking of relative risk. I would be more concerned if they issued a blanket statement noting they will not accept any applicants with foreign contacts. Whether that is the case remains to be seen. I would expect someone with more risk factors to undergo a more rigorous vetting when determining if they pose a risk to innappropriate disclosure.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ HakosukaJD #3

    With respect I disagree.
    Having ’employees’ of various ethnic backgrounds, foreign language skills acquired as a first language or whilst living overseas, is seen as an essential part of a good skills mix for many countries security services (and other government branches). The US and the UK both have a positive discrimination/affirmative action policy with regards to recruitment in this respect since it makes it easier for these branches of government to do their jobs (in some cases, it makes it possible for these branches to do their jobs). This is why talk of the SDF suddenly being able to rescue IS hostages thanks to a relaxation of constitutional restraints is BS; the Japanese simply haven’t got the language skills, cultural awareness, or ethnic appearance to operate in that theater.

    And really, government ministers and high level ministerial employees should be people with as little understanding of the outside world as possible? How many foreign heads of state (especially in Europe) can speak more than one language? The new Japanese guidelines define having a second language ability as a threat to security.

    It’s a scam to preserve the status quo. Don’t make excuses for them.


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