Media completely disregard mass rally against SDF dispatch to Iraq -- Akahata 'Media Watch' column -- December 12

As the plan to deploy Japan's Self-Defense Forces to Iraq becomes an imminent reality, more anti-SDF dispatch rallies are taking place throughout the country. However, these events are completely ignored by the "mainstream" commercial media.

On December 10th, immediately after the Koizumi Cabinet's decision to give the SDF dispatch to Iraq the green light, about 7,000 people assembled at the Hibiya Amphitheatre in Tokyo in protest. The media didn't report it. Did they regard the rally as unworthy of reporting?

The media must fulfill their mission of reporting facts, regardless of differences over the SDF-dispatch plan. If the media think that majority opinion in opposition to the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq is not as important as the government's preparation for the plan, it is tantamount to abandoning its mission.

The media has enormous influence on public opinion. The media's failure to pay attention to majority opinion will pave the way for misguided politics to go unchecked.

Some media are fanning support for the SDF dispatch by reporting only Iraqi people's voices welcoming SDF troops. That is clearly "biased". There were also "false" reports. NHK, Japan's public broadcast station, reported that in Iraq a banner that read "we welcome the SDF" in Japanese was put up. But the Arabic for the sign on the same banner read "we welcome Japanese." A Japanese person admitted that he was asked to add the letters "the SDF" to the banner.

The SDF dispatch to Iraq has an important bearing on not only Japan but the world, and is an act that tramples on international law, the Japanese Constitution, and Japan's post-war commitment to not make the same mistake again. It is also an act delaying the launch of a U.N.-led framework replacing the present U.S.-British occupation.

Before and during World War II, the Japanese media were in favor of the war of aggression and drove the people to support it through wartime propaganda. The media now must go back to the starting point where it pledged not to follow the past footsteps of support for war. (end)

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