公文書管理 法律はできたが課題も多い

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 25, 2009)
New archive law marks start of major change
公文書管理 法律はできたが課題も多い(6月25日付・読売社説)

The nation's national archive system, which has not performed as well as those of other countries, is set to fundamentally change.

A law on management and preservation of official state documents was enacted Wednesday that sets out the procedures for drawing up and managing documents by administrative authorities as well as rules covering their transfer to the National Archives of Japan. The law is expected to come into effect in April 2011.

As a democratic nation, it is the government's responsibility to preserve documents detailing policy decision-making processes and to fulfill its responsibility to make such information available to the public.

The law makes it clear that state documents are intellectual resources to be shared by all citizens to support the foundations of a healthy democracy. It also stipulates that people are allowed to proactively use such documents.

To meet the aims stated under the law, we must steadily work to better preserve and manage state documents.

Ministries and agencies currently preserve administrative documents for at least one year and up to 30 years. In the final fiscal year of the preservation period, a decision on whether to discard the information, transfer it to the National Archives of Japan, or extend the preservation period have been determined at the initiative of the relevant ministry or agency.


Logbooks, lists lost

National archives management has been so poor, however, that the logbooks of a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel were discarded before their preservation term had expired, and a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry document listing patients suspected of being infected with hepatitis C through tainted blood products was left in a storage area.

The new law stipulates that the consent of the prime minister is needed before documents are discarded and that administrative documents, which are valuable as historical materials, will be transferred to the National Archives of Japan in almost all cases.

However, the law, which was proposed by the government, does not cover Diet and court documents.


Archives law must be debated

A report compiled by an expert government panel in November sought to promote the transfer of documents drawn up by the Diet and courts to the National Archives of Japan. For that purpose, the panel has proposed a reorganization of the body that oversees the archives, changing it from its current status as an independent administrative corporation to a special administrative corporation.

The Diet resolution accompanying enactment of the law stated that an examination must be made of how the National Archives of Japan should be reformed. Thorough discussion of the issue is indeed needed to ensure the new plan quickly takes shape.

The expansion of the National Archives of Japan will be a big task. It has been pointed out that the capacity of the main building, located in Kitanomaru Garden in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, will be reached within a decade. The current number of staffers is merely 42 people, in contrast to the 2,500 employed in the United States and 800 in Germany.

Archivists must be quickly trained. A change in the current mindset of officials at ministries and agencies toward preserving documents also should be promoted.

With progress of IT, the number of electronic documents has greatly increased in recent years, making it necessary to draw up rules for the efficient management of electronic documents.

Many tasks need to be tackled, but we must steadily promote the preservation of documents by taking a long-term view and seeing this project as one concerning the very basis of our nationhood.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2009)
(2009年6月25日01時33分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-06-25 09:43 | 英字新聞

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