March 2(Wednesday)

No. 16: [Disclosure] Diplomatic Records, the Chief Cabinet Secretary's Press Conference, and more! Steadily Progressing Information Disclosure


On February 10, 2011, for the first time the Chief Cabinet Secretary's press conference was opened to all journalists, including freelance journalists. On February 18, the fourth batch of diplomatic records to be disclosed to the public since the rise to power of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was released. On February 26, the number of people who had accessed Prime Minister Kan's Blog reached 1 million. Efforts to bring more information to the public continue.



Narration: Prime Minister Kan's Blog, launched in November of last year, has been accessed over 1 million times. Reflecting back, Prime Minister Kan stressed the importance he has placed on communicating and disclosing information since assuming office.


Prime Minister: I will also work to break down the 'closed door' nature of the government. I more than anyone else am acutely aware of the importance of information disclosure.


Narration: A vast amount of records are stored at the Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When it came to power, the Democratic Party of Japan made it a basic rule that diplomatic records more than 30 years old must be disclosed.


Narration: Recently, 606 additional volumes of records were made open to the public through the fourth disclosure based on this rule. Anyone of age 18 and above can view them after following the necessary procedures.


Archivist: I'm working on restoring this old document by applying thin washi paper to both sides.


Narration: In order to protect the documents, thorough checks and repairs are undertaken before they are made open to the public.


Interviewer: Is it alright if I touch this?


Archivist: Yes, no problem.


Interviewer: It can also be waved.


Archivist: Yes.


Narration: The Public Records Act, effective from this April, calls these documents "common intellectual property of the people that supports the foundation of a healthy democratic system." These steady efforts to sustain democracy will continue.


Narration: The Government has not stopped at merely disclosing past records. Yet another step was taken recently to make even more of the latest information available to the public.


Director of Press Office: I kindly ask you to make each question short, so that we can answer questions from as many people as possible.


Narration: It may appear to be just another press conference from the Chief Cabinet Secretary like the ones you have seen on television, but this time a major change in the press seating area has occurred.


Chief Cabinet Secretary: Following the Prime Minister's press conferences, from today onward my press conferences will also be made open to all journalists.


Narration: With the consent of the Japanese National Press Club, freelance journalists are now allowed to attend the press conference and pose questions once a week. Newcomers commented...


Mr. Kudo (J-CAST News): I saw a freelance journalist say on Twitter that the Chief Cabinet Secretary's press conference would also be opened up.


Mr. Imai (freelance journalist): I think it's great that many questions were posed from freelance journalists and those not belonging to the Press Club.


Narration: The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that it is the basic policy of his Cabinet to conduct open press conferences.


Prime Minister: I have approached my own press conferences with the stance that they should be as open as possible. At Cabinet meetings and ministers' meetings I have also been encouraging each minister to approach the matter taking that same orientation, to the extent possible.


Narration: Lastly, on February 26, a Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary exchanged views with prominent bloggers and other opinion leaders. The Kan Administration will continue efforts for more meaningful communication with the people.


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