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U.N. rights expert sees threats to press independence in Japan

35 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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including laws meant to protect coverage fairness and national security that he said could work as censorship.

Could? Already has. People are losing their jobs, broadcasters are called into the government and "scolded" or threatened with losing their licenses, and lord knows what else that has not been reported.

Not could, IS censorship

17 ( +21 / -4 )

The "kisha clubs" have long ensured the media towed the line anyway. Kaye doesn't seem to have mentioned them. At least not according to this article.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

really no point in pretending the UN is going to actually do anything

2 ( +9 / -7 )

sf2k,

The UN is not a governing body. There is nothing they can do. Only report and inform.

I think it's good that they shine a light on these issues, but unfortunately it's not enough. Japan, as a whole, officially, greets the world with a smile, and the outside takes this as a sign of honesty and friendliness when what it really is is a way of deception. Press freedom here is probably worse than is reported. What Yubaru mentions about journos being summoned to the gov. and the scolded (how they love to scold here) sounds like a joke. In many places that actually has a press worth its salt, not only would such a request be refused, it would be published widely, revealing how the gov. try to intimidate their way to obedience.

What Kaye mentions about "professional solidarity" is another big problem. I always get the feeling that the media here are ready to feed each other to the dogs when it comes to serious issues, instead of trying to work together as a whole. It seems to be more important to make a profit and pck on each other than to actually work in the public's best interest. When Asahi Shinbun some time back got attacked by the right-wing falange, no other media (as far as I am aware) backed Asahi up.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese reporters take anonymous identities and seek to post news about Japan outside of Japan because other countries' laws are less constrained.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

No news here, but glad it's getting more international attention. Embarrassment is really the only way the government stops misbehaving... and even then it usually gets all defensive and denies it first, then says "It's an internal issue," then finally has to come to terms with the fact that it's been called a spade when it is a spade.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

...anti-Japan/anti-government mindset.

Explain this, will you? Is being critical and inquisitive, not always agreeing with what you are force fed by the big dogs the same as being "anti"?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Explain this, will you? Is being critical and inquisitive, not always agreeing with what you are force fed by the big dogs the same as being "anti"?

-Asahi's blatantly erroneous reporting of the Comfort Women issue in which they used fabricated numbers and stories was as close to journalism as The Onion or National Inquirer and was intended to slander Japan. There is a vast difference between being critical or inquisitive, asking "why" something is happened and twisting stories to influence people into thinking Japan and it's Government is an evil oppressive monster.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

The independence of the press is facing serious threats

My dear sir, Japan has NEVER had independence of the press.

It also needs to protect whistleblowers, crucial for providing reporters with information about nuclear power, disaster response, national security and other topics of public interest, Kaye said.

That's impossible with Abe's new security law.

Japan needs to pass anti-discrimination laws, instead of focusing on hate speech, which could backfire and curb the freedom of expression, he said.

Very true.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Cyburnetic Tiger:

An honest error, recognised as such and corrected. Interesting that you mentioned 'twisting stories' in your post.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The Asahi was duped. There is plenty of evidence on Japan's force prostition in World War II.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Japan has never had a free press, let alone any "real" journalism. Cronyism & the kisha system have ensured that this will never change. As we all know, criticism is one thing Japan just can't handle.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"finishing a weeklong visit to Japan in which he interviewed journalists and government officials,"

A whole week? Why did he need a week at UN expense? Anyone who is not burdened by being able to read or understand Japanese ought to be able to grok the situation in 30 minutes or less of net surfing.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Anyone who is not burdened by being able to read or understand Japanese ought to be able to grok the situation in 30 minutes or less of net surfing.

And then you would have people criticizing them for only spending 30 minutes on it, and using the internet which is full of faulty information.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

An honest error the was continuously made for 20 years and resulted in strained relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea... It's interesting how it was a non-issue until for about 40 years until the "Press" decided to pick it up.

Yes, the Press needs to be free to print factual and unbiased information but it needs to be without political gain. When they fail, they should be held accountable by the Government.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

While the press should be controlled from printing false information, as Cyvurnetic Tiger points out, that is totally separate from allowing press to print articles critical of the government. As long as it's true, they should be allowed to print and broadcast as many critical stories as they want. Government should never have the leeway to revoke licenses according to what they deem "biased."

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Cyburn:

If I had to guess, I would say that the strained relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea were caused by, let me think. Oh yes! The 'comfort women' forced prostitution issue itself.

They were not caused by falsified articles from one source which were picked up in the Asahi and not understood to be false so unfortunately were not corrected for a long time. Are you saying the Asahi was not held accountable?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Try censoring the internet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Try censoring the internet. Sadly It will be easier to do than you think, censoring Worldwide website is hard to do however that is not how one can control what you read, one could only re-write HTML pages on-the-fly based on filtering rules and delivering special content for every single users, it is is already done, by the means of the cookies, dedicated ads are offered, and if govt instructed your internet provider to do it , they will certainly not refuse.

It is good that they shine the light on it because simply nobody will do it here by the fear to lose their license. I think it is by putting the shame on the country by exposing their dark side (press and justice in Japan) that those threats to freedom and abuse of human rights can be reduced. This is exactly what I am expecting from the U.N. to denounce a member which is not following the right path.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And then we have this clown Yamamoto of the LDP sending off tweets in pidgin English to prominent overseas reporters who dare to write articles which don't fully reflect the Abe government take on various issues. He is trying to turn Japan into China! He doesn't realise that having a functioning free press is a fundamental difference between the kind of society Japan aspires to be on the one hand, and countries like China on the other.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Fuben

...anti-Japan/anti-government mindset.

Explain this, will you? Is being critical and inquisitive, not always agreeing with what you are force fed by the big dogs the same as being "anti"?

I totally agree with you but the mindset of the JGov/Elite is that they are the parents the police/teachers are the uncle/aunts and the population the children so they basically think Who are you to question us in our ultimate wisdom you must tow the party line like a good boy/girl. imo

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese journalists were feeling pressured to avoid sensitive topics

This is because japan hates a confrontation and avoids topics which might cause a stir. Remember? They like that whole harmony thing in order for the whole "group" to benefit.

and that some told of being sidelined because of complaints from politicians.

This is so typical Japan. The nail which sticks up will be "hammered" down . . . but in this case they're "sidelined" by the power politicians have.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes, the Press needs to be free to print factual and unbiased information but it needs to be without political gain. When they fail, they should be held accountable by the Government.

Since by definition whenever the press publishes something negative about a politician or political party it results in a political gain for their opponent, you are basically saying that the press should never print negative information about any politician ever.

In reality of course this really means that the press can freely publish negative reports about opposition politicians since they have no control over the government mechanisms to punish the media, while the above prohibition on printing negative stuff would only apply to the LDP since they have such control.

In other words you want the legal system used to regulate the press in one-party communist dictatorships to apply in Japan. Interesting.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This and the absence of caricature and TV show with comedian making satire of the govt PM (which is very disturbing when you think about it). Maybe time for frustrated Japanese journalist to join the ICIJ.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This and the absence of caricature and TV show with comedian making satire of the govt PM

Actually now that you mention it, yeah that is kind of disturbing. Not many other countries exist where comedians refrain from making fun of the PM (at least in the mainstream media).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

CyburneticTigerAPR. 20, 2016 - 09:52AM JST

Yes, the Press needs to be free to print factual and unbiased information but it needs to be without political gain. When they fail, they should be held accountable by the Government.

If media bias isn't overwhelmingly in favour of one party and the political gain is equally spread about I don't see any problem. Perhaps you feel the only information that should be printed is that which is first vetted and approved by the government?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Since by definition whenever the press publishes something negative about a politician or political party it results in a political gain for their opponent, you are basically saying that the press should never print negative information about any politician ever.

I don't think in any dictionary you would find a definition that says that. However, you might be able to find trends that show it but I am not saying it's wrong to expose any factual wrong doings of a person or corporation/government. What I am saying is that the Press tends to purposely publish erroneous information or twisted numbers in order to discredit a person or corporation/government for their own gain which is slander and should be reprimanded. Case in point outside Asahi falsifying numbers would be the cherry picking of information that doesn't accurately depict a situation such as this linked article. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/use-of-ospreys-for-disaster-relief-draws-mixed-reaction

If media bias isn't overwhelmingly in favour of one party and the political gain is equally spread about I don't see any problem. Perhaps you feel the only information that should be printed is that which is first vetted and approved by the government?

No, they have the right to publish it but when they do and it's proven wrong or in violation of any laws then they shouldn't complain censorship when they get summoned by PMs to answer for their errors.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Cyburn:

You are confusing libel laws which play a proper and necessary role with censorship, which does not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Actually now that you mention it, yeah that is kind of disturbing. Not many other countries exist where comedians refrain from making fun of the PM (at least in the mainstream media).

True.

I have thought about this a lot as of late, and have come to the conclusion that Japan as a whole has a very hard time actually laughing at itself, something many other countries can do. Self-ridicule would also mean a sort of self-reflection and I think that is important in any country.

When they fail, they should be held accountable by the Government.

As David Kaye said in his presser, the fact that the government interferes directly, not via independent oversight, is kind of worrying.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CyburneticTiger: "An honest error the was continuously made for 20 years and resulted in strained relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea."

Nope. The strained relations are the result of Japan not properly apologising nor atoning for forcing women into sexual slavery. Not reporting those facts doesn't make it a non-issue, much as you would like to stop being reminded of history (so long as it's Japan as the aggressor).

I was going to talk about how you are mistaking censorship with libel besides, but theeastisred beat me to it. What part of not printing anti-nuke papers is stopping factually incorrect reporting? It's blatant censorship, my friend, the same as anything that does not toe the right wing party line.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders was released today and Japan's rank fell to 72, from 61 last year from a high of 11 in 2010 https://rsf.org/en/japan. It is very sad.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan is a bona fide' fascist society, accepted as a democracy ONLY on account of abundant smarmy .

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No press in the world is free.....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

CyburneticTigerAPR. 20, 2016 - 01:28PM JST

No, they have the right to publish it but when they do and it's proven wrong...

If any information circulated by the media is proven wrong then an independent regulatory body, with no political affiliations or the whole political spectrum equally represented, should decide what happens. Not the LDP, and certainly not a Nippon Kaigi lackey like Shinzo Abe.

or in violation of any laws then they shouldn't complain censorship when they get summoned by PMs to answer for their errors

Oh, like the secrecy laws that were vehemently opposed by many Japanese people, give the government the power to define anything it likes as state secrets and severely punish any who disclose them, and lack any provisions for effective oversight?

.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Fuben

if the UN has statues of agreement between countries but no mechanism to hold countries to account then those agreements are worthless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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