Name of law: Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs First adopted: 1999 Last modified: 2004-04 RTI Rating last updated: 2017-05


Japan’s law has some strengths but also some notable weaknesses, resulting in an average score. The constitutional foundation upon which the law was built is strong, with the Japanese Supreme Court finding a right to information within the right to freedom of expression in the case Kaneko v. Japan. However, the scope is limited as the law only applies to 'documents' rather than the more inclusive 'information', and the executive branch. Some of the procedural rules  are undefined, including specific time limits, a major flaw. All of the exceptions protect legitimate interests, are harm-tested and subject to a public interest override. However, the RTI law also preserves secrecy laws. The oversight of public authorities is weak as well since the administrative oversight body is not independent and cannot make binding decisions. There are also no sanction for obstruction of access and a limited set of promotional measures.

The law is also available in its Japanese original here.

Local Expert: Yuko Kasuya