Kazutsugi Nami, 75, the chairman of Tokyo-based bedding supplier L&G KK, known for its own ‘‘Enten’’ currency, was arrested Feb 5 on suspicion of organizing a scheme to defraud investors. He allegedly collected 118 million yen in total from six clients between July and December 2006 despite knowing they could not pay the promised investment returns.
At the time of his arrest in a Japanese restaurant near his apartment, a weird scene was captured by TV cameras and photographers. Beautiful female reporters surrounded him like hostesses.
“This is a paid session! You must pay 10,000 yen to join in,” Nami told a Shukan Post journalist and photographer. Even the female reporters around him gazed at the Shukan Post staff with cold eyes. Those who didn't pay for the session had to leave the restaurant and wait for him outside until police appeared for his arrest.
A spokesperson for the TV station says their female reporters didn't pay 10,000 yen. An employee of the restaurant also recalls: “It was not actually our normal business hours at that time, but some TV station staff requested us to open the restaurant. Mr Nami paid for his meal by himself. But reporters paid about 1,000 yen each, just like a tip.”
As “X-Day” for Nami's arrest was leaked, TV stations started dispatching their female reporters to cover Nami, including his private life at pachinko parlors, the golf course and bars. He is also famous for creating the so-called “Cosmo Girls” group by hiring his favorite hostesses, paying them a 300,000 yen monthly salary and providing apartments to them.
Usually, reporters belonging to the press club located in the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) cover the police beat, such as the L&G case. Insiders say, however, that female reporters closely communicate with detectives and find out about high-profile arrests in advance.
A crime reporter for one major newspaper says, “To get insider information at the MPD, a sexy reporter can find out more than 10 male reporters. Every TV station arranges to have at least two female reporters keep in touch with detectives. They often have drinking sessions with them. They are like female ninja.”
An insider recalls that a female TV reporter once went back to Nami's apartment, saying, 'Oh! I've left my belongings,” and was seen there the next morning by other reporters. “There was a rumor that she stayed with Nami for the night,” he says. “I know some female reporters tried not to show any feelings even when Nami hugged them. Of course, others tried to make sure they were never alone with him. Who knows what was going on."
While such media behavior is virtually accepted to get scoops, some critics say it goes against journalists' code of conduct. Keichi Katsura, a media researcher at Rikkyo University, says, “Media may think they can get close to Nami if they mobilize female reporters to cover him. But from the viewpoint of victims in the L&G case, those female reporters have crossed the line. It's a matter of professional ethics.” Katsura adds, “These days, media coverage by TV stations simplify those cases as just good and evil, and fail to report the nature of issues.”
Fuji TV, TV Asahi and TV Tokyo told Shukan Post that their “reporting methods were appropriate,” while NTV and TBS declined to comment. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today