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Media not doing their job on covering political fund use

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Recent revelations in the media over politicians' brazen abuses of funding have originated mostly from the weekly magazines. Which ought to be regarded as an anomaly, considering that major newspapers and TV networks are far more numerous and have much greater news-gathering resources.

So why aren't the mainstream media performing their task as public watchdogs? The answer, asks Shukan Post (Nov 14), is that they don't feel compelled to do so. It's a situation created by the shameful nexus of political power, money and the media, with the latter on the receiving end of tasty treats to elicit their cooperation.

As an example, Shukan Post refers to a private dining room at the Akasaka Hanten, a posh Chinese restaurant where, on the evening of October 10, reporters belonging to the "kisha club" covering the prime minister's office gathered around Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for an informal, off-the-record dinner. The magazine counts 23 intimate encounters between Abe and the top people at major newspapers, TV networks and publishing companies so far this year.

The dispensation of discretionary funds is left entirely to the chief cabinet secretary, currently Yoshihide Suga, whose own activities, however, are said to be no match for Abe's. Suga does his entertaining of media people at the dining bar in Tokyo's swank Hotel Okura. He justifies these tete-a-tetes as a "forum for exchange of opinions."

"We are invited to drink, but Suga himself never touches a drop," confides a political reporter. "He asks our opinions on a variety of topics, and his usual responses to whatever we say are remarks like, 'Naruhodo, kento shimasho' (I see. We'll give it some thought). As far as I know, Suga always picks up the tab. I've never heard of a journalist being made to pay."

Most of the people Suga treats are said to be editorial writers at major newspapers, but through these contacts the LDP's influence is said to trickle down through the entire news organization.

Another source of the influence buying are party hacks in the LDP, who focus their efforts at managing editors of the pages covering politics.

"Party members holding seats in the Diet can issue their own receipts," says a party insider. "By spreading the money around assiduously, they can dissuade newspapers from running critical articles, or run stories about the opposition with a negative slant. As a way of showing appreciation for the favorable media treatment, they might shift the second venue to an establishment with hostesses. These people are not obliged to specify on the receipt who they took out, so the details of the outlays don't get made public."

About 60% of the LDP's income in 2014 (15,783,660,000 yen) derives from "political support funds," which are obtained from tax revenues.

"Someone from the party's data department phoned me and said, 'It's been a while since we've gone out. How about a drink this evening?'" a reporter for the political pages of a major newspaper tells Shukan Post. "He'd reserved a private room at a restaurant in the city. At first he just made small talk, but then he got down to brass tacks, asking me, 'There's something going on in your news department, isn't there?' As it were, he was pumping me for information about the Tokyo Metropolitan Police looking into an LDP Diet member involved in a major fraud case.

"I didn't know about it, and told him so, but when he picked up the check, he said to me, 'If you hear anything, let me know, all right?'"

For assistance in supplying information for a Diet questioning session, a reporter received a deluxe assortment of seasonal fruit from a Diet member's home district, delivered to his home.

"The thing about sending fruit, if a recipient tries to refuse it, I can urge him by saying, 'Since it will spoil in any case, please accept it," says the Diet member's secretary. "Anyway, it's all legal and proper, paid for from the political activities fund, where it's entered on books as 'a gift.'"

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So why aren’t the mainstream media performing their task as public watchdogs? The answer, asks Shukan Post (Nov 14), is that they don’t feel compelled to do so. It’s a situation created by the shameful nexus of political power, money and the media, with the latter on the receiving end of tasty treats to elicit their cooperation.

Can anyone actually say they are surprised by this? Why would the media industry operate any differently than any other part of J-Inc? Media in Japan does not view itself as the "fourth estate" as in the UK, U.S. or many other western countries -- intent on operating in the public interest to keep government and big business playing by the rules. The media in Japan thinks it is operating in the public interest by furthering the goals of government and big business -- that is the Wa.

8 ( +10 / -4 )

So why aren’t the mainstream media performing their task as public watchdogs?

They are. What Asahi/Mainichi/Tokyo writes are polar opposites of Yomiuri and Sankei.

I've read this Shukan Post article. It's like "Don't buy the major newspapers! Buy our weekly's (Shukanshi)"

-10 ( +4 / -13 )

Why would any critically thinking person expect a for-profit private industry to be able to act as a public watchdog? Only an independent public media (not a government controlled one, such as NHK), funded directly by citizens can help us have greater social justice and protect democratic processes.

4 ( +4 / -1 )

They are. What Asahi/Mainichi/Tokyo writes are polar opposites of Yomiuri and Sankei.

Really? Name a single major government or corporate scandal uncovered by any of those three in the last year? Or, better yet, let's use the most recent example to illustrate the coziness of the Japan press with J-Inc. How come it is the NY Times that uncovered possible criminal behavior by Takata? You mean to tell me with all the reporters from these three publications you reference that they could not have gotten that story if they really wanted to? The Shukan Post is right, newspaper ad space in Japan is too valuable to the publications, and they will not risk pissing off a major corporation, or Dentsu or Hakuhodo, by publishing embarrassing stories.

6 ( +9 / -4 )

Oh my! Wasting your money away and not a peep. Deserve what you get.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really? Name a single major government or corporate scandal uncovered by any of those three in the last year? Or, better yet, let's use the most recent example to illustrate the coziness of the Japan press with J-Inc. How come it is the NY Times that uncovered possible criminal behavior by Takata? You mean to tell me with all the reporters from these three publications you reference that they could not have gotten that story if they really wanted to? The Shukan Post is right, newspaper ad space in Japan is too valuable to the publications, and they will not risk pissing off a major corporation, or Dentsu or Hakuhodo, by publishing embarrassing stories.

Yomiuri with the inside info on the secret negotiations of TPP which stated an agreement on 9 percent tariff on beef tariffs. Asahi's first hand report on the Yoshida report (TEPCO) and Inose's fund scandal. Sankei's report on the details of confidential report on the interview of former comfort women.

Seriously. One can use a simple google search to come up with these. Secondly, it goes to show you that you don't or can't read them so why on earth are you in a position to criticize?

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

The weekly magazine Shukan Shincho does get credit for bringing down short-lived METI minister Yuko Obuchi, but I suppose the writer was following up on information leaked to the magazine by one of Obuchi's political enemies. (That's the way things usually get into the news.)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yomiuri with the inside info on the secret negotiations of TPP which stated an agreement on 9 percent tariff on beef tariffs. Asahi's first hand report on the Yoshida report (TEPCO) and Inose's fund scandal. Sankei's report on the details of confidential report on the interview of former comfort women.

LOL. None of your examples even begins to support your argument. Not one of them involves a single case of actual investigative journalism. Yomiuri simply got a leak from some inside the negotiations who wanted to slow down the process. Asahi had to apologize for the Yoshida report, because they had so much of it wrong. Asahi hardly "broke" the Inose scandal. And, the comfort women issue has nothing at all to do with the point of this article, and, again, Sankei had to retract of it. If you are going to point to those as shining examples of Japanese journalism, you are in real trouble.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

LOL. None of your examples even begins to support your argument. Not one of them involves a single case of actual investigative journalism. Yomiuri simply got a leak from some inside the negotiations who wanted to slow down the process. Asahi had to apologize for the Yoshida report, because they had so much of it wrong. Asahi hardly "broke" the Inose scandal. And, the comfort women issue has nothing at all to do with the point of this article, and, again, Sankei had to retract of it. If you are going to point to those as shining examples of Japanese journalism, you are in real trouble.

Moving goal posts again. Also redefining 'investigative journalism'. Add on top of that, getting pretty much everything wrong in your analysis. "Sankei had to retract it". Lol

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

This is why Japan rates so poorly in regards to press freedoms, and corruption.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

Japan's media is rubbish. Almost zero investigative journalism. Imagine a publication like the British "Private Eye" here. Dream on.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

Your answer is right here:

http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp18.html

A great read, suggested by another website user a few months back. The media here is basically one giant cartel - intertwined with the press, TV, radio & music businesses. It's a joke - take any notion unbiased 'freedom of the press' and throw it right out the window...

8 ( +7 / -0 )

The magazine counts 23 intimate encounters between Abe and the top people at major newspapers, TV networks and publishing companies so far this year.

For assistance in supplying information for a Diet questioning session, a reporter received a deluxe assortment of seasonal fruit from a Diet member’s home district, delivered to his home.

“The thing about sending fruit, if a recipient tries to refuse it, I can urge him by saying, ‘Since it will spoil in any case, please accept it,” says the Diet member’s secretary. “Anyway, it’s all legal and proper, paid for from the political activities fund, where it’s entered on books as ‘a gift.’”

And there are posters here defending the media when there are statements to this effect? Yeah, maybe it is legal, maybe a lot of it isn't but is it professional for top people at major newspapers, TV networks and publishing companies to be so cozy with the Prime Minister and members of the government as well as being whined and dined on our tax money? Do you really expect the rest of us to trust that they are being COMPLETELY neutral and aggressive in performing their journalistic duties when this shit goes on behind our backs? The fact that these meetings are not reported on nor are they made public might lead most sensible citizens to believe that something is going on that they don't what us to know and it probably ain't pretty folks. 23 intimate encounters so far this year and we still have another 6 weeks to go, that's a meeting every two weeks and NO-ONE talks about it, wake up people and think about it.

If this is what we can expect from the supposedly private networks what the hell do you think is going on between the Prime Minister and his buddy, new president of NHK Katsuto Momii. I will not give a single yen to NHK nor should anyone else till they pull their heads out of the governments ass. But what can you expect from NHK, they get a significant portion of their budget through government funds, (our tax money) and the rest comes from us TV owners, another freaken tax. Like to know how many intimate encounters there have been between the government and members of NHK so far this year but don't expect a story on that any time soon as that is probably listed as state secrets and will wind the reported up in jail.

5 ( +5 / -1 )

No surprises here. And Jerseyboy, and Shunkan, is bang on in pointing out how it takes those outside the major mainstream J-media to tell the people of Japan what's happening. The media in this nation are just as bad as in China, only China doesn't put lipstick on it and call it something else. And when the 'secrecy law' comes into effect this joke of a media will be even worse.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

No surprises here. And Jerseyboy, and Shunkan, is bang on in pointing out how it takes those outside the major mainstream J-media to tell the people of Japan what's happening. The media in this nation are just as bad as in China, only China doesn't put lipstick on it and call it something else. And when the 'secrecy law' comes into effect this joke of a media will be even worse.

Again, the NSK gives out awards to these investigative journalism. But if you can't read them, you won't know which seems to be the case for smith, Jerseyboy and Shunkan(瞬間?。)

http://www.pressnet.or.jp/about/commendation/kyoukai/works.html

At least it's not insane like South Korea where you can be held criminally liable for paraphrasing the domestic newspaper in another language. That's seriously messed up.

-6 ( +4 / -9 )

Journalism for the most part DOESNT exist in Japan, vast majority is spoon fed & then spewed to the masses 99% of the time

The only time you see reporters hopping is when something gets reported that WASNT supposed to be reported & then they HAVE TO jump on the gravy train.

Most J-media are a joke, print, tv...........garbage!~

4 ( +4 / -1 )

At least it's not insane like South Korea where you can be held criminally liable for paraphrasing the domestic newspaper in another language. That's seriously messed up.

It appears that it wasn't just paraphrasing, it was paraphrasing and drawing conclusions that weren't in the original article. Said conclusions may be libel, which is where the criminality comes in.

2 ( +3 / -2 )

It appears that it wasn't just paraphrasing, it was paraphrasing and drawing conclusions that weren't in the original article

Me thinks you didn't read Kato's article.

-3 ( +2 / -4 )

It wouldn't matter if I did - I couldn't read the original Korean article to be able to confirm myself whether or not he was paraphrasing or drawing conclusions that weren't in the original article. But from reports of people who can read both, that's what he did. Have you read the original Korean article to confirm that this isn't what he did?

1 ( +2 / -3 )

It wouldn't matter if I did - I couldn't read the original Korean article to be able to confirm myself whether or not he was paraphrasing or drawing conclusions that weren't in the original article. But from reports of people who can read both, that's what he did. Have you read the original Korean article to confirm that this isn't what he did?

So you didn't read them. Great (sigh)

For me, I read the Chosun Ilbo Japanese edition on August 10th and compared it with Kato's.

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

But you didn't read the Korean version. So you don't know either.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

why aren’t the mainstream media performing their task as public watchdogs

why is the author so utterly ignorant of Confucianism?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

But you didn't read the Korean version. So you don't know either.

Why? It's Chosun Ilbo's Japanese Edition. Same writer. Same column.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Fair enough. Got a link to both articles?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fair enough. Got a link to both articles?

Yes. (sigh)

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

So where are they? I don't take your assertions at face value - I need to confirm myself.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That won't be necessary. Please do not address nigelboy any further on this thread.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And it will only get worse after December 10 and the secrecy law will go into effect.

No more dinners needed for the newspapers, perhaps the government can finally save money some where.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No more dinners needed for the newspapers, perhaps the government can finally save money some where.

Oh, the dinners will continue, with a flurry of feasting towards the end of fiscal years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

papigiulio Nov. 11, 2014 - 05:48PM JST

And it will only get worse after December 10 and the secrecy law will go into effect.

No more dinners needed for the newspapers, perhaps the government can finally save money some where.

Unfortunately for the Japanese citizens as well as the concept of a free press, after December 10th an eerie silence will overcome the Japanese media on issues pertaining to such matters which are mentioned in this thread and we will have to depend on foreign news sources for our news when it concerns the government. Seems like Abe and the media execs are two peas from the same pod and history will not be kind to either.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The only 'real' investigate reporting here is by the tabloids, who don't care too much about corporate advertising or toeing the establishment line, and do not belong to the 'kisha club'; a great example being the exposure of Olympus.

Companies spend billions of yen in advertising, and none of the papers want to risk losing any of it. The mainstream media will only touch sensitive subjects when they have been reported in foreign media, and they have to have some sort of obligatory response. A good account of this is in Gamble and Watanbe's book 'A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West'.

5 ( +4 / -0 )

Media not doing their job on covering political fund use. You think it's bad now, just wait until after December. We all will be amazed at how many subjects will be considered state secrets!

3 ( +2 / -0 )

yeah, just wait until December and we'll see even less of that stuff. Japanese media never really wore the 'watchdog' hat, and now they'll have a good reason not to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A good account of this is in Gamble and Watanbe's book 'A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West'.

And, I would add, a book fully funded and arranged by the Soka Gakkai.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It’s a situation created by the shameful nexus of political power, money and the media, with the latter on the receiving end of tasty treats to elicit their cooperation.

So, yeah. The media is doing their job....

0 ( +0 / -1 )

The media in the US is no better. They are supposed to be one of the primary entities who's purpose is to protect the people from the government. Instead we have a media here which protects the government from the people. Or even worse, protects preferred ideology and political parties from the people as well. Since the media is now part of the political class, being tehir protectors, this makes all media world wide, effectively having the same problems, which is they are more interested in protecting politicians from people. In the case of this article, what political funding is used for, no where would any media report on what the politicians really do in any situation, especially with money, unless of course the media wants to be rid of the politician.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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