According to a Reuters article, “the upper house of Japan’s parliament late on Friday [Dec. 6, 2013] approved the state secrets act, which toughens penalties for leaks and broadens the definition of official secrets, despite protests by thousands of demonstrators near parliament and criticism from a broad swathe of media and intellectuals.”

The article goes on to state that “about 82 percent of the respondents to [a] Kyodo poll, conducted on Sunday and Monday, wanted the secrets act—which some critics have likened to Japan’s harsh authoritarian regime before and during World War Two—to be revised or abolished.”

With Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister, this should be no surprise. Abe and others in the Japanese government are the grandchildren of the men who ruled during that authoritarian regime. Abe’s grandfather was Nobusuke Kishi, the Japanese munitions minister during WWII. Kishi was arrested as a war criminal by the U.S. occupation forces for overseeing the pillaging of Manchuria by the Imperial Army, but was never indicted. He was released, eventually became Prime Minister of Japan in 1957 and was instrumental in establishing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a conservative political party that has dominated Japanese politics for more than 60 years with the full backing of the Central Intelligence Agency.

More noteworthy was Kishi’s central role in the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, established in 1960. Among other things, this treaty recognizes the Senkaku Islands, the focal point of the escalating dispute between Japan and China, as belonging to Japan. According to this treaty, the U.S. is obligated to defend these islands as Japanese territory.

Abe’s father, Shintaro Abe, was foreign minister under LDP PM Yasuhiro Nakasone, who in 1982, became the first post-WWII leader to advocate the re-militarization of Japan, something Abe’s father also strongly supported.

Not surprisingly, Abe himself is an advocate of re-militarization. The conservative nationalism instilled in him by his father and grandfather surely contributed to his promoting the adoption of school text books that describe Japan’s role in the Pacific war as “self-defense.” Although Abe himself has never served in the military, he seeks to abolish Article 9, a clause in Japan’s U.S.-imposed constitution that bans war and allows only for self-defense. Like many of our so-called “leaders,” he is prepared to start a war that he himself has no intention of participating in. This move is opposed by over 70% of the Japanese population.

As tensions mount over the Senkaku Islands, Abe shows no signs of backing down, nor any modicum of diplomacy. The Chinese are not going to give up anything, either. In 2013, China announced the creation of a newly expanded air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, which the U.S. and Japan promptly violated. The Japan Times ran an article indicating that many in Japan think war between the two countries is both inevitable and imminent. Given the impending collapse of the Japanese economy, war may be the only option that provides any hope of economic growth and financial stability.

In a country that has never acknowledged its wartime actions, much less attempted to make amends, it appears history is destined to repeat itself.

Or is it? Maybe this is just a distraction? A smoke screen designed to take our attention off the spent fuel rod removal at Fukushima Dai-Ichi? Certainly, news out of Fukushima will be censored to an even greater degree with the new state secrecy act in place.

We are living in nefarious times. When secrets are necessary to keep us safe and censorship is a prerequisite of freedom, we can be sure that we have little safety or freedom left to defend. It should be obvious to every thinking person that secrets and censorship serve only to protect liars, empower tyrants and hide criminal activity.