Japan’s media under siege as the messenger is shot and Japan slides towards “burning the witch”

Radiohead – Burn The Witch

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Source: The Japan Times

Out in the cold: Takashi Uemura (center), a former reporter at Asahi Shimbun, walks with his lawyers toward the Sapporo District Court in February 2015 to file a libel suit against a journalist and three publishers, claiming their articles groundlessly labeled him as a fabricator of a report on a former "comfort woman."| KYODO

Out in the cold: Takashi Uemura (center), a former reporter at Asahi Shimbun, walks with his lawyers toward the Sapporo District Court in February 2015 to file a libel suit against a journalist and three publishers, claiming their articles groundlessly labeled him as a fabricator of a report on a former “comfort woman.”| KYODO

Shooting the messenger: journalism under siege in Japan

Journalists who refuse to toe the official line are under pressure, experts say

by David Mcneill and Justin Mccurry

Special To The Japan Times

May 28, 2016

Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers
This is a low-flying panic attack
— “Burn the Witch,” Radiohead

Hair graying and dressed in slacks and an open-necked shirt, 58-year-old Takashi Uemura would be hard to pick out in a crowd — even for the neo-nationalists who despise him.

The former journalist shrugs off the possibility that such hatred might one day translate into violence. Yet, as he talks, Uemura pushes his glasses up to his brow, creases his forehead and gives a look that says, “Why me?”

A quarter of a century ago, Uemura penned two articles as a young Osaka-based reporter for his then employer, the Asahi Shimbun, about Asian “comfort women” who were corralled into Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

The articles made him a hated figure on the right. The initial low-key criticism, published in the conservative monthly Bungei Shunju over the years built into a furious campaign of denunciation that branded him a “fabricator” and a “traitor.”

In 2014, the campaign peaked when Uemura took early retirement and applied for a teaching position at Kobe Shoin University. His job offer was retracted after the university received death threats and hate mail triggered by an article in Shukan Bunshun.

The vilification followed him to a second prospective employer, the small Hokusei Gakuin University in Hokkaido, this time including a threat to blow up the university and harm his family. A picture of his daughter, who is half Korean, was published by online by right-wingers.

Read More: The Japan Times

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