The lower house of the Japanese parliament on Tuesday Nov 26,2013 has approved a state secrecy bill that imposes stiffer penalties on civil servants who leak secrets and journalists who try to obtain them.
But the government says the move is needed for national security reasons.
The bill now goes to the upper house, where it is also likely to be passed.
Critics say the new law could allow the government to withhold more information and ultimately undermine Japan's democracy.
The Japanese Public is also wary of the bill. In a Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll, 50 % of voters said they were against it, while just 26 %supported it. A Kyodo News poll found that 41.1 % are opposed to it, and 45.9% support it.
allows heads of ministries and agencies indefinitely to make secret 23 types of information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.
public servants or others cleared for access to state secrets could be jailed for up to 10 years for leaking information.
Journalists and others in the private sector convicted of encouraging such leaks could get up to five years in jail if they use "grossly inappropriate" means to solicit the information