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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 30 - October 6  > Media workers and concerned citizens join forces to resist gov't control over media
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2020 September 30 - October 6 [POLITICS]

Media workers and concerned citizens join forces to resist gov't control over media

October 5, 2020
Former economy bureaucrat Koga Shigeaki, who had been a commentator on TV Asahi's "Hodo Station", told Akahata that behind his ouster from the program in March 2015 "lies pressure from Suga Yoshihide".

Akahata on October 5 reported that Koga during the program in January the same year said, "Japanese people should hold up a placard reading 'I am not Abe'," as a gesture to oppose Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's decision to provide 200 million dollars to countries fighting against ISIL.

Koga said, "It was the same as Abe's declaration of a war against ISIL, but our country with the pacifist Constitution has never engaged in any war since the end of the Pacific War. Many Japanese people have a different path forward from what Abe has in mind. So, I was calling on viewers to send this peace message to the world - 'I am not Abe'."

After this comment he made during the program in question, a secretary to Suga Yoshihide, chief cabinet secretary at that time, e-mailed TV Asahi to complain about Koga. Suga at an off-the-record meeting held later with news reporters said, "Koga's comment made me really angry." Notes taken in off-the-record information gatherings are normally reported to media outlets. Koga suspected, "Suga was exerting pressure fully aware that his response would be passed on to TV Asahi executives."

In July 2014, anchorperson Kuniya Hiroko, during NHK's "Close-up Gendai" program with the attendance of the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, cast doubt on the Cabinet decision to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. She later encountered hostility from the PM Office and was eventually forced to leave the program.

Tokyo Shimbun reporter Mochizuki Isoko has taken part in Suga's regular briefings since June 2017, and tenaciously asked questions regarding PM Abe's involvement in the "Kake Gakuen" scandal. Her questions led to the reinvestigation into the scandal and the discovery of related-internal documents. Mochizuki recalled, "Before long, Suga no longer allowed me to question him and ran the briefings as he wanted." The PM Office in December 2018 actually demanded the exclusion of Mochizuki from the Cabinet press club.

Mochizuki said to Akahata, "My elimination from the club was not simply a personal attack on me, but was a warning that anyone who questions the government will face reprisals. He tried to take the teeth out of the news media's role as watchdog over power."

In opposition to the PM Office's attempts at media control, the Mass Media Information and Culture Union (MIC) in March of this year organized a demonstration near the PM Office in which many media workers and concerned citizens participated. Newspaper reporters and journalists using a microphone proclaimed, "Protect the people's right to know! Let us struggle for truth!" The demonstration was picked up and shared widely on social media. Then, Suga stopped his refusal to respond to disturbing questions from reporters who he does not like. Mochizuki said, "Demonstration works."

In order to confront the government control over the media, Iwasaki Sadaaki, former member of the TV Asahi news center, said, "It is important for those in media to unite and rebuild solidarity with the general public."

Now, the new struggle has begun against the Suga government's media control.
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