Country

Japan

Japan

Name of law : Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs
First adopted : 1999

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 3
Scope 30 14
Requesting procedures 30 13
Exceptions 30 21
Appeals 30 9
Sanctions 8 0
Promotional measures 16 5
TOTAL 150 65

Introduction:
One of the chief shortcomings of this law are that it does not apply to the National Diet or the Judiciary. The relative weakness of the Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Review Board is also a problem, and this organization lacks enforcement powers and is purely a consultative body. This weakness is compounded by the lack of sanctions contained within the law.
Right of Access

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Not mentioned.
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 1: "In accordance with the principle that sovereignty resides in the people, and by providing for the right to request the disclosure of administrative documents, etc., the purpose of this law is to strive for greater disclosure of information held by administrative organs thereby ensuring that the government is accountable to the people for its various operations, and to contribute to the promotion of a fair and democratic administration that is subject to the people's accurate understanding and criticism." No --- Yes - Art 1




Scope

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 NO 3: "Any person, as provided for by this law, may request to the head of an administrative organ (Provided that the organ is designated by the Cabinet Order of the preceding Article, paragraph 1, subparagraph (3), that person designated for each organ by Cabinet Order. Hereinafter the same.) the disclosure of administrative documents held by the administrative organ concerned." 4(1): "A request for disclosure as provided for by the preceding Article (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure request.") shall be submitted to the head of an administrative organ as a document (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure application.") in which are entered the following items. (1) The requester's full name or title, along with a permanent address or place of residence, as well as the full name of a representative in the case of a corporation or other group. (2) The titles of administrative documents or other particulars that will suffice to specify the administrative documents relevant to the disclosure request." 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 2(2): "For the purposes of this law "administrative document" means a document, drawing, and electromagnetic record (Meaning a record created in a form that cannot be recognized through one's sense of perception such as in an electronic form or magnetic form. Hereinafter the same.), that, having been prepared or obtained by an employee of an administrative organ in the course of his or her duties, is held by the administrative organ concerned for organizational use by its employees. However, the following are excluded: (1) Items published for the purpose of selling to many and unspecified persons, such as official gazettes, white papers, newspapers, magazines, and books. (2) In the case of archives and other organs designated by Cabinet Order, as provided for by Cabinet Order, items that are specially managed as either historical or cultural materials, or as materials for academic research." 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 2(2): "For the purposes of this law "administrative document" means a document, drawing, and electromagnetic record (Meaning a record created in a form that cannot be recognized through one's sense of perception such as in an electronic form or magnetic form. Hereinafter the same.), that, having been prepared or obtained by an employee of an administrative organ in the course of his or her duties, is held by the administrative organ concerned for organizational use by its employees. However, the following are excluded: (1) Items published for the purpose of selling to many and unspecified persons, such as official gazettes, white papers, newspapers, magazines, and books. (2) In the case of archives and other organs designated by Cabinet Order, as provided for by Cabinet Order, items that are specially managed as either historical or cultural materials, or as materials for academic research." 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 2: "1. For the purposes of this law "administrative organ" refers to the following organs. (1) Organs within the Cabinet or organs under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet that were established pursuant to law. (2) Organs established as administrative organs of the State as provided for in Article 3, paragraph 2 of the National Government Organization Law (Law No. 120 of 1948). (Provided that the organ is one in which an organ designated by the Cabinet Order referred to in the next subparagraph is established, the organ designated by the Cabinet Order is excluded.) (3) Facilities and other organs under Article 8, paragraph 2 of the National Government Organization Law, and extraordinary organs under Article 8, paragraph 3 of the same law, that are designated by Cabinet Order. (4) The Board of Audit 2. For the purposes of this law "administrative document" means a document, drawing, and electromagnetic record (Meaning a record created in a form that cannot be recognized through one's sense of perception such as in an electronic form or magnetic form. Hereinafter the same.), that, having been prepared or obtained by an employee of an administrative organ in the course of his or her duties, is held by the administrative organ concerned for organizational use by its employees. However, the following are excluded: (1) Items published for the purpose of selling to many and unspecified persons, such as official gazettes, white papers, newspapers, magazines, and books. (2) In the case of archives and other organs designated by Cabinet Order, as provided for by Cabinet Order, items that are specially managed as either historical or cultural materials, or as materials for academic research." Article 3(2) of the National Government Organization Law: "The national administrative organs to be established for the purpose of administrative organization shall be Office on the Ministerial Level, Ministry, Commission, and Agency. The establishment and abolition of such administrative organs shall be provided for by other law." 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. However - does not apply to local prefectures, and as a unitary government this costs them a point (though some of the prefectures have their own access laws). The archives are also not covered. There are no specific exclusions.
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 42: "Regarding corporations that were founded directly by law or founded through special establishing acts brought about by special laws (Excluding corporations not subject to Article 4, subparagraph 11 of the Management and Coordination Agency Establishment Law (Law No. 79 of 1973). Hereinafter referred to as "public corporations."), in accord with their character and type of business, the government shall take necessary measures such as legislative measures relating to the disclosure of information held by public corporations in order to promote the disclosure and provision of information held by public corporations." 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

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES 4: "1. A request for disclosure as provided for by the preceding Article (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure request.") shall be submitted to the head of an administrative organ as a document (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure application.") in which are entered the following items. (1) The requester's full name or title, along with a permanent address or place of residence, as well as the full name of a representative in the case of a corporation or other group. (2) The titles of administrative documents or other particulars that will suffice to specify the administrative documents relevant to the disclosure request. 2. When the head of an administrative organ concludes that there is a deficiency in the form of the disclosure application, he or she may, fixing a suitable period of time, ask the person making the disclosure request (Hereinafter referred to as "the requester.") to revise the request. In this case, the head of the administrative organ shall endeavor to put at the requester's disposal information that will be helpful in the revision."
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 4: "1. A request for disclosure as provided for by the preceding Article (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure request.") shall be submitted to the head of an administrative organ as a document (Hereinafter referred to as a "disclosure application.") in which are entered the following items. (1) The requester's full name or title, along with a permanent address or place of residence, as well as the full name of a representative in the case of a corporation or other group. (2) The titles of administrative documents or other particulars that will suffice to specify the administrative documents relevant to the disclosure request. 2. When the head of an administrative organ concludes that there is a deficiency in the form of the disclosure application, he or she may, fixing a suitable period of time, ask the person making the disclosure request (Hereinafter referred to as "the requester.") to revise the request. In this case, the head of the administrative organ shall endeavor to put at the requester's disposal information that will be helpful in the revision." 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): "When the head of an administrative organ concludes that there is a deficiency in the form of the disclosure application, he or she may, fixing a suitable period of time, ask the person making the disclosure request (Hereinafter referred to as "the requester.") to revise the request. In this case, the head of the administrative organ shall endeavor to put at the requester's disposal information that will be helpful in the revision."
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 Not mentioned.
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 12: "1. When there is a justifiable reason for the head of another administrative organ to make the disclosure decisions, etc., such as when administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request were prepared by another administrative organ, the head of an administrative organ may upon consulting with the head of the other administrative organ transfer the case to the head of the other administrative organ. In this case, the head of the administrative organ who transfers the case shall notify in writing the requester to the effect that the case was transferred. 2. When a case has been transferred as provided for in the preceding paragraph the head of the administrative organ who has received the transfer shall make the disclosure decisions, etc. for the disclosure request. In this case, the acts prior to transfer by the head of the administrative organ who has transferred the case are considered to be those of the head of the administrative organ who has received the transfer. 3. In the case of the preceding paragraph, when the head of the administrative organ who has received the transfer makes an Article 9, paragraph 1, decision (Hereinafter referred to as a "decision to disclose."), that administrative organ head shall implement disclosure. In this case, the head of the administrative organ who has transferred the case shall cooperate as necessary in the implementation of disclosure." 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 14: "1. The disclosure of administrative documents shall take place by inspection or by the provision of copies for documents or drawings, and for electromagnetic records by methods determined by Cabinet Order that take into consideration their classification and the state of development, etc. of information technology. However, when disclosure of an administrative document is to take place by the inspection method, if the head of the administrative organ considers that there is a risk that difficulties in the preservation of the administrative document will arise, or for other justifiable reasons, a copy of the document may be provided for inspection. 2. The person who will obtain disclosure of administrative documents based upon a disclosure decision, as provided for by Cabinet Order, shall request the desired method of implementation of disclosure and other items determined by Cabinet Order to the head of the administrative organ who made the disclosure decision. 3. The request as provided for by the preceding paragraph shall be made within thirty days after the notification provided for in Article 9, paragraph 1. However, this shall not apply when there is a justifiable reason for being unable to make the request within this time limit. 4. The person who has obtained disclosure of administrative documents based upon a disclosure decision, within thirty days after first obtaining disclosure, may request to the head of the administrative organ to the effect of again obtaining disclosure. In this case the proviso in the preceding paragraph shall apply mutatis mutandis." 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 Not mentioned.
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 Article 10 Time Limit for Disclosure Decisions, Etc.: "1. The preceding Article's decisions (Hereinafter referred to as "disclosure decisions, etc.") shall be made within thirty days after the day of the disclosure request. <...>" 30 days
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): "Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, when there are justifiable grounds such as difficulties arising from the conduct of business, the head of the administrative organ may extend the time limit provided for in the same paragraph for up to thirty days. In this case, the head of the administrative organ shall without delay notify the requester in writing of the extension period along with the reason for the extension." 11: "In the case that there is a considerably large amount of administrative documents concerned with the disclosure request, and there is a risk that by making disclosure decisions, etc. for all of them within sixty days of the disclosure request the performance of duties will be considerably hindered, notwithstanding the preceding Article, it shall be sufficient if the head of the administrative organ makes disclosure decisions, etc. for a reasonable portion of the administrative documents concerned with the disclosure request within the said period of time, and if disclosure decisions, etc. are made for the remaining administrative documents within a reasonable period of time. In this case, the head of the administrative organ shall within the period of time provided for in the first paragraph of the same Article notify the requester in writing of the following items: (1) The application of this Article and the reason for its application. (2) The time limit for making disclosure decisions, etc. for the remaining administrative documents." 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): "The person who makes a disclosure request, and the person who obtains the disclosure of administrative documents, as provided for by Cabinet Order, shall pay respectively a fee for the disclosure request and a fee for the implementation of disclosure of an amount determined by Cabinet Order and within the limits of actual expenses."
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 16: "1. The person who makes a disclosure request, and the person who obtains the disclosure of administrative documents, as provided for by Cabinet Order, shall pay respectively a fee for the disclosure request and a fee for the implementation of disclosure of an amount determined by Cabinet Order and within the limits of actual expenses. 2. In determining the amount of the fee of the preceding paragraph consideration shall be given to see that it is as affordable an amount as possible. 3. When it is deemed that there is economic hardship or other special reasons, as provided for by Cabinet Order, the head of an administrative organ may reduce or exempt the fee of paragraph 1." Fees should be within the limits of actual expenses: Art 16.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 YES 16(3): "When it is deemed that there is economic hardship or other special reasons, as provided for by Cabinet Order, the head of an administrative organ may reduce or exempt the fee of paragraph 1."
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

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Not mentioned.
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 5: "When there is a disclosure request, excluding cases in which any of the information mentioned in each of the following subparagraphs (Hereinafter referred to as "non-disclosure information.") is recorded in the administrative documents concerned with the disclosure request, the head of an administrative organ shall disclose said administrative documents to the requester. (1) Information concerning an individual (Excluding information concerning the business of an individual who carries on said business.), where it is possible to identify a specific individual from a name, birth date or other description, etc., contained in the information concerned (Including instances where through collation with other information it is possible to identify a specific individual.), or when it is not possible to identify a specific individual, but by making the information public there is a risk that an individual's rights and interests will be harmed. However, the following are excluded: (a) Information that is made public, or information that is scheduled to be made public, as provided for by law or by custom. (b) Information recognized as necessary to be made public in order to protect a person's life, health, livelihood, or property. (c) In the case that the said individual is a public official (National public employees as described in Article 2, Section 1 of the National Public Service Law (Law No. 120 of 1947) or local public service personnel as described in Article 2 of the Local Public Service Personnel Law (Law No. 261 of 1950).), when said information is information that concerns the performance of his or her duties, from within said information that portion which concerns the said public official's office and the substance of the said performance of duties. (2) Information concerning a corporation or other entity (Excluding the State and local public entities. Hereinafter referred to as a "corporation, etc."), or information concerning the business of an individual who carries on said business, as set forth below. Excluding, however, information recognized as necessary to be made public in order to protect a person's life, health, livelihood, or property. (a) Where there is a risk that, by being made public, the rights, competitive standing, or other legitimate interests of the corporation, etc. or the said individual will be harmed. (b) Where upon the request of an administrative organ it was offered voluntarily on the condition that it not be made public, and where in light of the nature of the information and the circumstances, etc. at the time, such as the corporation, etc. or the individual not ordinarily making the information public, the attachment of said condition is considered to be rational. (3) Information that, if made public, the head of an administrative organ with adequate reason deems to pose a risk of harm to the security of the State, a risk of damage to trustful relations with another country or an international organization, or a risk of causing a disadvantage in negotiations with another country or an international organization. (4) Information that, if made public, the head of an administrative organ with adequate reason deems to pose a risk of causing a hindrance to the prevention, suppression or investigation of crimes, the maintenance of public prosecutions, the execution of sentencing, and other public security and public order maintenance matters. (5) Information concerning deliberations, examinations, or consultations internal to or between either organs of the State or local public entities that, if made public, would risk unjustly harming the frank exchange of opinions or the neutrality of decision making, risk unjustly causing confusion among the people, or risk unjustly bringing advantage or disadvantage to specific individuals. (6) Information that concerns the affairs or business conducted by an organ of the State or a local public entity that, if made public, by the nature of said affairs or business, would risk, such as the following mentioned risks, causing a hindrance to the proper performance of said affairs or business. (a) In relation to affairs concerned with audits, inspections, supervision, and testing, the risk of making difficult the grasping of accurate facts, along with the risk of facilitating illegal or unfair acts or making difficult the discovery of those acts. (b) In relation to affairs concerned with contracts, negotiations, or administrative appeals and litigation, the risk of unfairly harming the State's or a local public entity's property interests or position as a party. (c) In relation to affairs concerned with research studies, the risk that their impartial and efficient execution will be unjustly obstructed. (d) In relation to affairs concerned with personnel management, the risk that the impartial and smooth maintenance of personnel matters will be hindered. (e) In relation to the business of an enterprise managed by the State or a local public entity, the risk that legitimate interests arising from the management of the enterprise will be harmed."
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 7: "Even in the case that non-disclosure information is recorded in administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request, when it is deemed that there is a particular public interest necessity, the head of an administrative organ may disclose the administrative documents to the requester." 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 13: "1. When information regarding a person other than the State, a local public entity, or the requester (Hereinafter in this Article, Article 19, and Article 20 referred to as a "third person.") is recorded in the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request, the head of the administrative organ, when undertaking disclosure decisions, etc., may communicate to the third person concerned with the information a representation of the administrative documents concerned with the disclosure request and other items determined by Cabinet Order, and may provide the opportunity to submit a written opinion. 2. In the event that either of the following subparagraphs apply, before making a decision to disclose, the head of the administrative organ shall communicate in writing to the third person concerned with the information a representation of the documents concerned with the disclosure request and other items determined by Cabinet Order, and shall provide the opportunity to submit a written opinion. However, this shall not apply in the case that the third person's whereabouts are unknown. (1) Where, in the case that the intention is to disclose administrative documents in which information relating to a third person is recorded, it is deemed that said information will fall within the information provided for in Article 5, subparagraph (1)(b), or within the proviso contained in subparagraph (2) of the same Article. (2) When administrative documents within which information concerning a third person is recorded are to be disclosed under Article 7. 3. In the case that the third party who was provided an opportunity to submit a written opinion as provided for by the preceding two paragraphs submits a written opinion indicating opposition to disclosure of the administrative documents concerned, the head of the administrative organ, when making a decision to disclose, shall place at least two weeks between the day of the decision to disclose and the day that disclosure will be implemented. In this case, upon making the decision to disclose the head of the administrative organ shall immediately notify in writing the third person who submitted the written opinion (In Article 18 and Article 19 referred to as an "opposition written opinion.") to the effect that the decision to disclose was made, the reason, and the date of implementation of disclosure." 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 6: "1. In the case that non-disclosure information is recorded in a part of an administrative document concerned with a disclosure request, when it is possible to easily divide and exclude the portion in which the non-disclosure information is recorded, the head of the administrative organ shall disclose to the requester the portion other than the excluded portion. However, this shall not apply when it is deemed that meaningful information is not recorded in the portion other than the excluded portion. 2. In the case that the information of subparagraph (1) of the preceding Article (Limited to that which makes possible the identification of a specific individual.) is recorded in an administrative document concerned with a disclosure request, and if by excluding from said information the portion of the description, etc., that makes possible the identification of a specific individual, such as a name or birth date, there is considered to be no risk of harm to an individual's rights and interests even though it is made public, then the portion other than the excluded portion shall be regarded as not being included in the information of the said subparagraph, and the preceding paragraph shall apply."
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 NO 9(2): "When not disclosing any of the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request (Including when refusing the disclosure request in accordance with the preceding Article, as well as when administrative documents concerned with the request are not held.) the head of the administrative organ shall make a decision to the effect of non-disclosure and notify the requester to that effect in writing." 9(2) requires notification - but not of reasons or legal remedies.


Appeals

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 NO No internal appeals.
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 18: "When there is an appeal of a disclosure decision, etc. in accordance with the Administrative Complaint Investigation Law (Law No. 160 of 1962), the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal, excluding cases that fall within either of the following subparagraphs, shall make a reference to the Information Disclosure Review Board (When the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal is head of the Board of Audit, a review board separately provided for by law. In Section 3 generically referred to as the "Review Board."). (1) When the appeal is unlawful and is rejected. (2) When upon a ruling or decision the disclosure decision, etc. (Excluding decisions to the effect of disclosing all the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request. Hereinafter in this subparagraph and in Article 20 the same.) concerned with the appeal is revoked or altered, and all the administrative documents concerned with the appeal are to be disclosed. However, this shall exclude cases in which an opposition written opinion regarding the disclosure decision, etc. has been submitted." Yes - Art 18
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 NO Not mentioned in the law.
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 NO Not mentioned in the law.
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 NO 18: "When there is an appeal of a disclosure decision, etc. in accordance with the Administrative Complaint Investigation Law (Law No. 160 of 1962), the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal, excluding cases that fall within either of the following subparagraphs, shall make a reference to the Information Disclosure Review Board (When the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal is head of the Board of Audit, a review board separately provided for by law. In Section 3 generically referred to as the "Review Board."). (1) When the appeal is unlawful and is rejected. (2) When upon a ruling or decision the disclosure decision, etc. (Excluding decisions to the effect of disclosing all the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request. Hereinafter in this subparagraph and in Article 20 the same.) concerned with the appeal is revoked or altered, and all the administrative documents concerned with the appeal are to be disclosed. However, this shall exclude cases in which an opposition written opinion regarding the disclosure decision, etc. has been submitted." No provision on the authorities of the Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Review Board in Article 18.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 NO 18: "When there is an appeal of a disclosure decision, etc. in accordance with the Administrative Complaint Investigation Law (Law No. 160 of 1962), the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal, excluding cases that fall within either of the following subparagraphs, shall make a reference to the Information Disclosure Review Board (When the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal is head of the Board of Audit, a review board separately provided for by law. In Section 3 generically referred to as the "Review Board."). (1) When the appeal is unlawful and is rejected. (2) When upon a ruling or decision the disclosure decision, etc. (Excluding decisions to the effect of disclosing all the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request. Hereinafter in this subparagraph and in Article 20 the same.) concerned with the appeal is revoked or altered, and all the administrative documents concerned with the appeal are to be disclosed. However, this shall exclude cases in which an opposition written opinion regarding the disclosure decision, etc. has been submitted." 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 Partially 18: "When there is an appeal of a disclosure decision, etc. in accordance with the Administrative Complaint Investigation Law (Law No. 160 of 1962), the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal, excluding cases that fall within either of the following subparagraphs, shall make a reference to the Information Disclosure Review Board (When the head of the administrative organ who is expected to make a ruling or decision on the appeal is head of the Board of Audit, a review board separately provided for by law. In Section 3 generically referred to as the "Review Board."). (1) When the appeal is unlawful and is rejected. (2) When upon a ruling or decision the disclosure decision, etc. (Excluding decisions to the effect of disclosing all the administrative documents concerned with a disclosure request. Hereinafter in this subparagraph and in Article 20 the same.) concerned with the appeal is revoked or altered, and all the administrative documents concerned with the appeal are to be disclosed. However, this shall exclude cases in which an opposition written opinion regarding the disclosure decision, etc. has been submitted." Yes - but these are not binding - Art 18
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES 21: "An Information Disclosure Review Board shall be established within the Prime Minister's Office in order to examine and deliberate appeals in response to references as provided for in Article 18."
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 Not mentioned.
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 Not mentioned.
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

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 Not mentioned.
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 Not mentioned.
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 Not mentioned.
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 NO Not mentioned.


Promotional measures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
Findings

Points

Article

Comments
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 17: "As provided for by Cabinet Order (In the case of organs under Cabinet jurisdiction and the Board of Audit, orders of said organ.), the head of an administrative organ may delegate to an employee of said administrative organ the authority and functions provided for in this Chapter." Art 17 - they may delegate, they don't have to appoint someone.
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 YES 23(2): "In the case that a member's term expires or a vacancy occurs, and when the consent of both Houses cannot be obtained due to Diet adjournment or dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister may, notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, appoint members from among those holding the qualifications as provided for in the same paragraph."
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 Partially 24: "1. The position of Chairperson shall be established in the Information Disclosure Review Board, and the members shall elect that person from among themselves. 2. The Chairperson shall direct the affairs of and represent the Information Disclosure Review Board. 3. In the event that the Chairperson has an accident, the member who has been designated in advance by the Chairperson shall perform the duties of the Chairperson."
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO No provision
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 Partially 38: "1. So that it is possible for persons who intend to request disclosure to request disclosure easily as well as accurately, the heads of administrative organs shall provide information helpful in specifying the administrative documents held by the administrative organ and take other appropriate steps that take into account the convenience of the person intending to request disclosure. 2. In order to secure the smooth application of this law, the Director-General of the Management and Coordination Agency shall provide for general inquiry offices." Article 38/22(1) depending on the version - though not quite as comprehensive a requirement as a full register.
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
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 25(1): "The Information Disclosure Review Board shall examine and deliberate matters concerned with an appeal in collegiate bodies composed of three nominated members." 25(1) 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 Not mentioned.