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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Note-taking rules to be revised over quake panel flaps


The government will revise guidelines for managing official documents after many panels set up during and after the March 11, 2011, disasters failed to keep minutes of their meetings.

The revision will make it mandatory for any panel set up to handle an emergency situation, such as an earthquake or tsunami, to prepare documents within three months, in principle.

The Cabinet Office's revision is based on a set of recommendations drafted in late April by its commission on public documents, which was headed by University of Tokyo professor Takashi Mikuriya. The seven-member commission was established under the law on management of official documents, which went into effect in April 2011.

The commission interviewed government officials after it was found that 10 panels dealing with the March 2011 disasters failed to keep minutes of their meetings.

Panels set up to address "emergency situations that could bring large-scale and grave damage to the lives and bodies of people" will be required to keep documents, the commission said.

The panels will be divided into two groups — those involved in decision-making and those tasked with exchanging information between ministries and agencies. The commission recommended that decision-making panels prepare minutes or summaries of their meetings to clarify who said what, while liaison panels keep simplified records of their activities.

But Cabinet meetings, coordination sessions between leaders of the government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, and other key meetings will not be subject to the requirement.

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