While nobody was watching, an interim report drafted by a study group under the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has set down guidelines for regulation of the Internet in Japan which, according to one blogger, would extend as far as personal blogs and homepages. In the report, this “Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting”, headed by Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University Horibe Masao, discusses the possibility of applying the existing Broadcast Law [Ja] to the sphere of the Internet to regulate, under government enforcement, what gets on the web. The report also suggests that public comments be sought on the issue [Ja], in response to which the ministry has opened a space on their web page for the public to submit comments [Ja], available in the period between June 20th and July 20th.
Despite the obvious significance of the proposed regulation, neither media nor the majority of bloggers are aware of its existence.
It remains to be seen how stringent the regulations will be. Will this apply to solely news sites, or blogs as well? Either way, as a journalist and a blogger (heck, as a human being), the thought of this angers me. If I wanted to be silenced, I'd move to China or the Middle East.