Information is the currency of democracy: Japanese perspective

Publication Date11 Jun 2018
AuthorYasuyo Inoue
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,HR in libraries,Library strategy,Library promotion
Information is the currency of
democracy: Japanese perspective
Yasuyo Inoue
Faculty of Economics, Management, Librarianship,
Dokkyo University, Soka, Japan
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to proffer the view that the activities of libraries in Japan are central
to the democratic process.
Design/methodology/approach This paper is a viewpoint.
Findings This paper demonstrates librariansand library usersviews of libraries in the context of the
notion that information is the currency of democracy.
Originality/value This is the first English-language article on information as the currency of democracy
in a Japanese context.
Keywords Japan, Information, Democracy, Intellectual freedom, Library law, Library professionals
Paper type Viewpoint
1. Introduction
Thomas Jefferson who was the third president of the USA (1801-1809) mentioned
Information is the currency of Democracy.More than 200 years later now, this
message still means the importance of freedom of information flow in democratic society
including Japan.
This paper tries to express a point of view and activities of libraries, especially public
libraries in Japan concerning as advocate of the collecting and providing information.
Review and express of the role of libraries through legal framework, and also librariansand
library usersways of view toward libraries are examined through information is the
currency of democracyor informationas the currency of democracywith the Statement
on Intellectual Freedom and the Code of Ethics for Library workers.
We, Japanese, experienced how free access to information was important for the
currency of democracy especially during war time. During war time, facts were concealed
or censored by military government. Many newspapers and journals, and books were
censored by the Home Ministry(Naimu-sho) in those days[1], and at libraries, the people
could not read books freely. The special political police often showed up libraries and
checked who borrowed which books, and some users were questioned. Even after the war,
the USA occupied power censored media and controlled newspapers, journals and books
[2]. Even now, we sometimes wonder whether we can get the information adequately at
the time of disasters including atomic power plantsaccidents at the mega-earthquake
in Fukushima.
2. The role of libraries at legal framework in Japan
As the international perspective,International Covenanton Civil and Political Rights(1966)[3],
UNESCOsDeclaration of the Right to Learn(1985)[4], or UNESCO Public Library
Manifesto (1994)[5] are the guiding principles what libraries and library professionals set
forth. We, library professionals, need to embody what kind of information is required
by the people to get, analyze, review, and express their point of view for the currency of
democracy.We, library professionals, however, had better not judge the content of
information whether a user should read or not but the people themselves decide what they
want to read.
Library Management
Vol. 39 No. 5, 2018
pp. 336-342
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LM-02-2018-0011
Received 22 February 2018
Revised 22 February 2018
Accepted 27 February 2018
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