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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 January 15 - 21  > Frequent dining with PM Abe will increase public distrust for media
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2020 January 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Frequent dining with PM Abe will increase public distrust for media

January 20, 2020
Journalist Kono Shinji, who used to head the Nippon Television Network national news division, contributed an article to Akahata dated January 20, warning media executives that frequent dining with Prime Minister Abe will increase public distrust for the media.

Excerpts of his contribution are as follows:

The Abe Cabinet in 2020 continues to experience a crucial period due to various problems which occurred last year, such as the “cherry blossom-viewing party” scandal under which PM Abe’s involvement in illegal acts is called into question, the money-politics scandal over the promotion of casinos, and the planned dispatch of Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide at a regular press briefing on January 14 admitted to the hiding of the names of government departments from a list of recommended guests to the PM Abe-hosted cherry blossom viewing party. The list was submitted to the Diet by the Cabinet Office in the autumn of 2019 in response to a request from opposition parties.

On this day, in an evening news program, TBS “News 23” which reported on Suga’s admission of the coverups, news anchor Hoshi Hiroshi commented that this will become a major focal point in the coming ordinary Diet session.

It is a matter of course for opposition parties to grill the Abe government on this issue. In addition, as media outlets, TV stations will also be put to the test regarding their seriousness in their reportage and investigations of the coverups associated with the cherry blossom-viewing party scandal.

In this regard, there is a concern that Prime Minister Abe has dined with heads of media organizations and reporters many times despite the controversy over the favoritism scandal pertaining to the government-funded event.

Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions (Shimbun Roren) President Minami Akira, who works as a reporter at the Asahi Shimbun, in an Akahata interview on January 8 pointed out, “The Abe administration invites media executives and senior editors frequently to dinner when under scrutiny. This may be an attempt to get them involved in what the government is doing.”

For major dailies and TV companies, having dinner with PM Abe appears to be an obstacle rather than a useful way to get scoops. This was shown by the fact that media companies which never had dinner with PM Abe made the scoops. Akahata exposed the cherry blossom-viewing party scandal and the well-known weekly magazine, “Shukan Bunshun” published exclusive reports on election law violations involving two Abe Cabinet ministers, which led to their resignations.

The continuation of dinner get-togethers of media executives with PM Abe will increase public distrust of the media. Such a practice should be terminated without delay.

Past related article:
> Too much dining with PM will damage public trust in media: journalist [January 12, 2018]
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