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Now Japan seeks to stifle online freedoms

It's easy to believe the tales of internet censorship we hear regularly from China, but not so its ostensibly democratic neighbour in Japan. That perception may change of Japanese regulations shake up the online world as proposed.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications there is seeking new laws to go before parliament in 2010 that will bully ISPs into complying with its censorship requests and, thus, effectively allow it to control what can and cannot be said online in Japan.

Democracy, but not as we know it

As this IHT feature story explains, the move is being seen as a digital extension of the control over the media the Japanese government has held since the post-war years of the 1950s.

The widespread lack of freedom to report news independently in Japan has long been a complaint of journalists there, which is why the internet age has been increasingly embraced by professional and amateur writers alike.

Unfortunately for freedom of expression advocates, the subtle nature of the likely changes mean there's unlikely to be an uproar. One lawyer told the IHT, "I'm afraid ordinary citizens don't care about these lack of rights, consequently the internet in Japan is heading for the Dark Ages."