Journalists in Japan under pressure for criticizing official government policy

Several well known media personalities in Japan have come out publicly stating the media is under increasing pressure to stop criticizing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Shinzo Abe’s policies. At the same time, these media personalities have been criticizing the media in Japan for not living up to better expectations as journalists and reporters. Knowing how it is better to get along in Japan rather than be too harsh in criticism, this is another example of reaching the point of toleration then backing off before it brings too much condemnation down on the heads of journalists. Convictions have come into question about the integrity of the media in Japan, so will we see further criticism of the LDP or a passive media? If that is the case, what’s the point of having a media when it is apparent it is mostly for show and entertainment? What the Japanese government is saying is that they can come down at anytime and shut the media down or severely restrict broadcasting content.

Source: The Mainichi

Japanese journalists allege government pressure on media

March 24, 2016

Japanese journalists, from left, Osamu Aoki, Akihiro Otani, Shigetada Kishii, Soichiro Tahara and Shuntaro Torigoe, pose for a photo before their press conference at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, on Thursday, March 24, 2016. A group of five journalists accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government Thursday of pressuring broadcasters to reduce criticism of its policies, but also lamented what they called a failure by the media to live up to its convictions. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO (AP) — Five Japanese journalists accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Thursday of pressuring broadcasters to reduce criticism of its policies, but also lamented what they called a failure by media to live up to their convictions.

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They spoke at a news conference after Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi warned broadcasters last month that their licenses could be revoked if they failed to be impartial in political coverage.

Japan’s broadcast law says programs must be “politically fair,” and Takaichi said several times in parliament that a station that repeatedly fails in this regard could have its license revoked. Despite multiple protests that her comments constituted a threat to freedom of the press, she has not backed down.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, also has defended her comments as “common sense.”

The journalists said both Takaichi’s comments and the government response have been unacceptable, and vowed to continue their protest.

Abe’s government has been criticized as being too sensitive to critical reporting. Media experts say mainstream media have been shunning critical reporting to avoid trouble with officials who are increasingly touchy about how Japan and government policies are portrayed by both domestic and foreign media.

“Of all ruling Liberal Democratic Party governments, the Abe administration is most nervously checking what the media say, because what’s said on television affects his support ratings,” said Shuntaro Torigoe, a former Mainichi newspaper journalist and news anchor on TV Asahi. “In Japan today, rather than the media watching the authorities, the government watches the media.”

Please go to The Mainichi to read the entire article.

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