Internal Affairs and Communication Minister Takaichi Sanae repeatedly told ‘the government is authorized to shut down TV and radio programs’, and the Abe government announced ‘a unified statement’ to defend her remark. Reportedly, however, reactions are feeble from news agencies and TV and radio stations. Under these circumstances, the Hoso-wo-Kataru-Kai, or a group to discuss broadcasting issues, a civic organization founded in August, 1990, to incorporate citizens, media workers and experts, and the Japan Congress of Journalists (JCJ) have released a protest statement which demands resignation of Minister.
Minister Takaichi Must Leave Office
On February 8 and 9 Minister Takaichi told in her Diet speech replying to a question of an opposite lawmaker and in the press meeting about a possibility that the government may order to broadcasters to stop operation in compliance with Article 76 of the Radio Law on the ground of violation of Article 4 of the Broadcast Law, if the entities are judged to have ignored official calls not to air programs that lack political neutrality.
Newspaper Advertisement by Rightist Forces
Newspapers criticize the remark of the minister, reporting its effect and publishing commentaries and special column articles. However, TV & radio stations stay calm, though they are themselves that are involved: private TV channels reported the topic briefly in the news program, but the NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, did not air at all in the major news programs.
Professor Sato Manabu (majoring in US politics), Okinawa International University, mentioned in the column of the Mainichi Newspaper, Media’s Commentary on Current Affairs, dated February 20: he is concerned about a fact that the press as a whole seems not to criticize seriously the minister’s remark’.
The Association of Listeners/Viewers demanding Observation of Broadcast Law, to which many rightist figures belong as representatives, raised a full-page advertisement entitled ‘Stop TV Totalitarianism!’ in the morning issue of the Yomiuri newspaper on February 13. The group pretended to have detected weakness among people of the press. Though the group rejected allegation that it had links with the minister’s speech, the contention is identical.
The advertisement presents a pie chart to show length of on-air hours on pro-and-con comments concerning the two major laws, the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and the National Security Acts. It claims that ‘TV is monopolized’ and questions ‘Who protects people’s right to know?
The recent newspaper advertisement is of the group’s second round of campaign. The first one appeared in the Yomiuri and the Sankei in November last year. Later on announcements were made that three news anchors targeted in their advertisement, namely Kishii Shigetada of TBS, Furutachi Ichiro of TV Asahi and Kuniya Hiroko of NHK, had stepped down from their programs.
Minister of One Administration has Right to Say
The statement issued on February 12 by the Hoso-wo-Kataru-Kai and the JCJ harshly criticizes the minister’s remark: ‘the key element of her comment lies in a view that the state’s power has authority to examine broadcasting and printing operations so that it can resort to administrative measures. It is an intolerable attack to the rights of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution’. It goes to say that: ‘a person whose stance is mentioned above is in office of Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication in charge of broadcasting. This fact cannot be accepted’. It demands Ms Takaichi to leave office.
The statement points out that ‘it will be inevitable that an ideology or a thought of Internal Affairs Minister of a government might reflect in judgment, if suspension of broadcasting should be authorized’. It continues to warn that such a politician as Ms Takaichi should decide ‘whether a TV & radio program is impartial’, citing her comment on the power plant accident in Fukushima: ‘no single person died from the nuclear accident’.
March 1, 2016