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IV. Governance issues

Open government

The Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs (also called Freedom of Information Law) was approved by the Diet in May 1999 and went into effect in April 2001.1 The law allows any individual or company to request government information in electronic or printed form. The Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Review Board Establishment Act, established in 2005, consists of 15 members, and a 5-member subcommittee. Government officials still have broad discretion to refuse requests but requestors are able to appeal decisions to withhold documents to one of eight different district courts. According to the MIC, 2,333 of 2,418 municipalities, and all 47 prefectural governments, enacted a Freedom of Information Ordinance by April 1, 2006.2

International obligations

Japan is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a signatory to the OECD Guidelines on Privacy and Transborder Data Flows. Japan participated as a non-member observer country in the negotiations on the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and signed the Convention in November 2001.3 In April 2004, the Congress ratified the Convention on Cybercrime. In order to implement the Convention, the government started to amend related acts, including the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Japanese Federation of Bar Associations opposes the proposed amendments.4