Japan's parliament passes contentious secrets law, overriding criticism it endangers freedoms

Japan's parliament has approved a state secrets law that stiffens penalties for leaks by government officials and for journalists who seek such information, overriding criticism that it could be used to cover up government abuses and suppress civil liberties.

The ruling coalition forced a vote on the bill in an upper house committee on Thursday. Despite stalling tactics by opposition parties, the full upper house approved the bill on Friday by 130 to 82.

The more powerful lower house had approved the bill last week. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the law is needed to protect national security.

Critics worry it could be used to hinder public disclosures, punish whistleblowers or muzzle the media since journalists could be jailed for seeking information they do not know is classified as secret.