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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 24 - 30  > News media raise voices in opposition after ‘Destroy Okinawa newspapers’ remark at LDP study meeting
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2015 June 24 - 30 TOP3 [POLITICS]

News media raise voices in opposition after ‘Destroy Okinawa newspapers’ remark at LDP study meeting

June 28 & 30, 2015
Voices of opposition have been raised from the press after a revelation that at a study meeting of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, guest speaker Hyakuta Naoki and participating lawmakers suggested the need to suppress free speech.

The study meeting was held by Kihara Minoru, head of the LDP Youth Division, on June 25 at the party’s headquarters building, with around 40 LDP Dietmembers taking part. In the meeting, author Hyakuta Naoki said that two local newspapers in Okinawa should be crushed, blaming them for being critical of the Abe government’s policy on the U.S. bases in Japan and of the government-proposed war legislation. Participants expressed their approval to Hyakuta by, for example, saying that the best way to punish those papers is to discourage companies from running advertisements in the newspapers.

The two local dailies, the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo, on June 26 jointly issued a protest statement. The statement states that Hyakuta’s remark shows his intolerance toward media criticizing the government, which amounts to advocating the suppression of free speech. The statement also states that the news media’s primary role is to be critical of any abuse of power and that it is extremely dangerous to believe that news companies which do not report news in a manner that is in line with the government position should be eliminated. The statement concludes that the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo will keep fighting against any attempt to suppress the freedom of speech and expression.

On the same day, Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions (Shimbun Roren) Chair Arasaki Seigo and Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers’ Unions (Minpo-roren) Chair Akatsuka Ohoro released protest statements.

The Shimbun Roren statement points out that the union takes Hyakuta’s remark seriously as Hyakuta until February served a member of the board of governors of NHK. The statement adds that the Okinawan papers’ critical stance toward the Abe government represents the overwhelming majority of Okinawans’ firm opposition to the government’s base construction plan.

The Minpo-roren statement argues that the LDP’s aspiration to have control over and interfere in press activities is becoming obvious as it is trying to push the war legislation through the Diet. The statement stresses that Minpo-roren will never tolerate remarks that try to limit the freedom of speech.

The LDP decided to replace Kihara Minoru as head of the Youth Division.

* * *

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association issued a statement on June 29 in protest against the remarks LDP lawmakers made at the party’s study meeting.

Citing Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression, the statement condemns their remarks for leading to denying the freedom of the press. Noting that the freedom of speech forms “the very foundation of democracy”, it stresses that the body will firmly oppose any move to suppress such liberties.

The association, consisting of 130 newspaper companies across the country, is headed by the president of Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings.

Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association President Inoue Hiroshi (chairman of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television) published a comment on the same day, stating that those Dietmembers’ remarks undermine Japan’s democracy based on the constitutional freedoms of speech and expression.

The statement goes on to emphasize that the freedom of the press should be ensured, particularly when discussing contemporary national policies.
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