Country

Japan

Japan

Name of law : Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs
First adopted : 1999
Last modified : 01 April 2004
RTI Rating last updated : 26 May 2017

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 3
Scope 30 15
Requesting procedures 30 15
Exceptions 30 22
Appeals 30 14
Sanctions 8 2
Promotional measures 16 5
TOTAL 150 76

Right of Access

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1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 YES Japan\'s Supreme Court found a right to information within the constitutional right to free expression in the case of Kaneko v. Japan;
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 NO
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 Partially 3.1 No 3.2 yes Art 1




Scope

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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 YES Article 3 - requests can come from any person. 4(1) allows requests from corporations.
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 Partially Art 2(2) provides some exceptions but these are already publicly available documents or stored in separate archives. It does not exclude things like \"internal documents\" or databases.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 Partially Access to documents, not information (2(2)).
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 Partially Organs within the cabinet or organs subject to cabinet authority. Art 2 definition/Art 3(2) of the \"national government organization law\" includes ministries and agencies, as well as any subsidiary bodies they establish, but that\'s the extent of the scope. The archives are also not covered. There are no specific exclusions. Local contacts tell us that 1786 out of 1788 local governments have their own access to information rules.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 NO No mention of the legislature.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 NO No mention of the Judiciary.
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 Partially Article 42 seems to extend somewhat to these bodies, but our expert says SEO\'s aren\'t covered except for some state-run non-profits in 2(5).
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 Partially Board of Audit is covered under the law (Art. 2 (6))
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 NO Not Mentioned.

Requesting Procedures

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13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES Art 4.
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES Art 4 - equirement for only a name and an address for delivery.
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 Partially Procedure seems simple - but no mention of whether requests can be made orally.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 YES 4(2)
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 NO Not Specifically mentioned.
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 NO
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 Partially Art 12 allows for transfers, but lets authorities make a transfer even when they have the info if the info was created by another agency.
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 NO No - Art 14 allows requestors to state a preference, but the authorities are under no obligation to comply.
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 NO
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 Partially 10(1)
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 Partially 10(2) is reasonable, but Art 11 extends this slightly too far.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO 16(1)
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 Partially Fees should be within the limits of actual expenses: Art 16.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 YES 16(3)
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 NO not mentioned
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 YES
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 YES Article 5
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 Partially Article 7 - applies to all exceptions, but isn\'t mandatory (may rather than must).
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 NO No time limits applied to exceptions.
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 YES Clear mechanism in Art 13
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 YES Article 6
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 Partially Administrative Procedure Act Article 8 (1) Administrative agencies shall, in cases where they render Dispositions refusing the permission, etc. sought by Applications, concurrently show the grounds for the subject Disposition. However, where either the requirements provided by laws and regulations for the permission, etc. or the review standards that have been made available to the public are clearly specified in terms of quantitative indices or other objective indices, and where the fact that an Application does not conform to these requirements or standards can easily be seen from the contents of the written application or from its attached documents, it would be sufficient to show the grounds for the refusal only upon request of the applications. (2) When Dispositions prescribed in the main clause of the preceding paragraph are rendered in writing, then the grounds set forth in the preceding paragraph shall also be shown in writing.


Appeals

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36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 Partially See Administrative Appeal Act: http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?printID=&re=01&dn=%201&x=0&y=0&co=1&ia=03&yo=%E8%A1%8C%E6%94%BF%E6%89%8B%E7%B6%9A%E6%B3%95&gn=&sy=&ht=&no=&bu=&ta=&ky=&page=1&vm=02.
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES See Administrative Appeal Act: http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?printID=&re=01&dn=%201&x=0&y=0&co=1&ia=03&yo=%E8%A1%8C%E6%94%BF%E6%89%8B%E7%B6%9A%E6%B3%95&gn=&sy=&ht=&no=&bu=&ta=&ky=&page=1&vm=02.
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 Partially 23 (7) When the Prime Minister concludes that a member is not able to carry out his or her duties due to a physical or mental difficulty, or concludes that a member has acted in contravention of official duties or that there has been some other misconduct unbecoming of a member, he or she, on receiving the approval of both Houses, may dismiss that member.
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 NO Not mentioned in the law
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 Partially \"Article 23 1. The Prime Minister shall appoint members from among those people of superior judgment who have been approved by both Houses. 9. While in office a member shall not be an officer of a political party or other political association, or actively take part in a political movement. 10. Full-time members, while in office, except where they have received the Prime Minister\'s permission, shall not engage in another job for remuneration, run a commercial enterprise, or conduct any other business the purpose of which is to profit financially. \" Articles 23(1), (9) and (10) of old 1999 Law, these are now in the Act for
establishment of information disclosure and personal information protection review board
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 Partially \"Article 27 1. When it is deemed necessary, the Review Board may request the reference agency to present the administrative documents concerned with the disclosure decision, etc.. In this case, no one may request to the Review Board the disclosure of those administrative documents presented to the Review Board. 2. The reference agency shall not turn down a request made in accordance with the preceding paragraph. 3. When it is deemed necessary, the Review Board may request to the reference agency that it produce and submit to the Review Board materials classifying or arranging in a manner specified by the Review Board the contents of the information recorded in the administrative documents concerned with the disclosure decision, etc. 4. In addition to the provisions of the first paragraph and the preceding paragraph of this Article, the Review Board may, in relation to the matter concerned with an appeal, request the appellant, intervenor, or the reference agency (hereinafter referred to as \"\"appellant, etc.\"\") to submit written opinions or other materials, and may have persons deemed appropriate make statements about facts of which they have knowledge or request expert opinions or make any other necessary investigations. \" Articles 27(1)-(4) of old 1999 Law, these are now in the Act for
establishment of information disclosure and personal information protection review board
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 NO The Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Review Board is only a consultative body; Article 18
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 YES Article 18(ii) When, by a determination or decision, the Disclosure Decision, etc. (excluding the decisions to the effect of disclosing all the Administrative Documents pertaining to a Disclosure Request; hereinafter the same shall apply in this item and in Article 20.) pertaining to the objection is rescinded or altered, and all the Administrative Documents pertaining to the objection are to be disclosed; provided, however, that this shall exclude the cases in which a Written Opposition Opinion regarding the Disclosure Decision, etc. has been submitted.
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES Requesters can file a case to district court against any government decision
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 YES No fees, no need for lawyers.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 Partially According to our expert administrative silence can be appealed, but breach of timelines or excessive fees cannot be appealed.
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 NO
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 NO
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 NO not mentioned


Sanctions & Proteccions

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50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 NO
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 NO
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 NO
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 YES See Whistleblower Protection Act, No. 122 of 2004: http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data/WPA.pdf


Promotional measures

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54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES The management of records are set and applied by Public Records and Archives Management Act: http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?printID=&ft=1&re=01&dn=1&x=0&y=0&co=01&ia=03&ky=%E5%85%AC%E6%96%87%E6%9B%B8%E7%AE%A1%E7%90%86%E6%B3%95&page=1&vm=02
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES \"Public Records and Archives Management Act Article 7 (1) To ensure appropriate management of an Administrative Document File, etc. , the head of an Administrative Organ shall, pursuant to the provisions of a Cabinet Order, record the
classification, the title, the retention period, the expiration date of the retention period, measures to be taken upon expiration of the retention period, the preservation location and other necessary matters (excluding those falling under Non­Disclosure Information as provided for in Article 5 of the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs [Act No. 42 of 1999; hereinafter referred
to as \"\"the Administrative Organs Information Disclosure Act\"\"]) of an Administrative Document File, etc. , in a register (hereinafter
referred to as an \"\"Administrative Document File Management Register\"\"); provided, however, that this shall not apply to an Administrative Document File, etc. , for which a retention period
less than the period prescribed by a Cabinet Order has been set.
(2) The head of an Administrative Organ shall, pursuant to the provisions of a Cabinet Order, keep an Administrative Document File Management Register in an office of said Administrative Organ and provide it for public inspection, and shall also publicize it by a
method using an electronic data processing system or a method using other information and communications technology. \"
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 Partially \"Art39 1. The Director­General of the Management and Coordination Agency may request reports on the state of enforcement of this law from the heads of the administrative organs.
2. The Director­General of the Management and Coordination Agency shall annually collect, arrange, and publish a summary of the reports of the preceding paragraph. \" The Act allows the Minister of Public Management to request reports, but no mandate for this to be done annually.
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO