Journalists protest flagrant political interference

Sixteen journalists and scholars held a press conference on January 18 to protest Liberal Democratic Party politicians' interference in the public broadcaster NHK's program. About 150 citizens and researchers attended the meeting.

Nonaka Akihiro, a journalist who took the initiative in holding this press conference, stated that the incident concerns not only NHK but also the whole of mass media.

Takahashi Tetsuya, professor at Tokyo University, who took part in the NHK program on the wartime sex slavery system, said that he wanted those who knew the details of the interference to speak out, following the lead of the NHK chief producer Nagai Satoru who made the revelation.

Sakagami Kaori, the video director who took part in the production of the program, said that she felt as if she had been the one under martial law, because of de facto control on the freedom of speech.

A scholar pointed out that the problem is the mass media's inability to unite in protest against political interference, when democracy was undermined and the viewers' rights to know were violated.

Iwasaki Sadaaki, editor of the "Broadcaster Report" of the Media Research Institute, proposed that an impartial investigative committee be set up to establish the facts.

The Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers' Unions on the same day published a similar statement calling for an independent investigative committee. The statement described the incident as an attack on the freedom of expression and the independence of media. (end)

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