Japan gov't plans to take steps against "fake news" by June

©Kyodo News

Japan plans to come up with a set of measures aimed at preventing the spread of false online information or "fake news" particularly at times of elections and disasters, government sources said Monday.

The government is seeking to come up with the package around June, which may include a request to major American IT companies and other information providers to voluntarily formulate a code of conduct, the sources said.

While European countries have been staying ahead of such efforts, Japan is hoping to get involved in making international rules by drawing up necessary countermeasures first at home.

Still, Japanese officials have recognized the need to be careful about not putting freedom of expression at risk in the forthcoming deliberations, and they have no plans to enshrine new measures against disinformation into law.

U.S. tech giants, including Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, are expected to be the main focus of the measures to be drafted by a communications ministry panel of experts, the sources said.

At the same time, the government is considering calling on Japanese tech companies such as Line Corp. and Yahoo Japan Corp. that provide news through online apps to improve measures to combat the spread of incorrect information on their platforms.

In April 2018, the European Union asked leading U.S. and other tech and advertising firms to draft a self-regulatory code of practice and both sides agreed in September on the code.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications believes that a similar scheme can be produced in Japan.