Fujiwara breaks TV taboo, slams secrets bill

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Norika Fujiwara has broken an unwritten rule of the television business: sharing her political views. The popular model and actress has come out against a bill that stiffens penalties against civil servants who leak classified information.

Writing on her website, Fujiwara, 42, said passing such a law would adversely affect citizens and encouraged her fans to pressure the government to kill the bill, which the Diet will take up in an extraordinary session scheduled to open Oct. 15.

In a message posted on Friday, Fujiwara accused the government of covering up the truth about the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and spreading misinformation about radiation and leaks of radioactive water there.

“As a citizen I am really concerned about it,” Fujiwara wrote in another message. “Our nation has a right to know.”

Fujiwara joins the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association in opposing the bill as a violation of the right to freedom of speech that will undermine Japan’s democracy.

“Once the bill is signed, the people who will write the truth on the Internet (or through other means) will be punished,” she stressed. “When I think of all the consequences that it will lead to, it really bothers me.”

In a message posted soon after the International Olympic Committee picked Tokyo to host the 2020 Games, Fujiwara said she was hopeful the duty would prompt the government to tackle the radiation crisis head-on.

Fujiwara revealed that she had also used the government’s public comment system to voice her opinion to the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office.

However, she complained that the public comment system only gives citizens two weeks to provide their opinions on implementing the law.

Fujiwara also provided detailed information on her website on how to contact the government, and encouraged her fans to send in their own opinions by Internet, fax or mail.

Fujiwara, who has been involved in charity activities in Japan and elsewhere as the PR ambassador for the Japanese Red Cross Society, recently made her eight visit to areas damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In May, the actress received a special award at the Nikkei Social Initiative Awards ceremony, held by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, for her contributions to society.

However, she is not the first TV celebrity to expose herself to criticism by expressing her opinions.

After speaking out against nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, actor and activist Taro Yamamoto lost a part in a TV series, and another show he appeared on cut to a commercial in the midst of his political commentary.

Yamamoto was elected to the Upper House in July after vowing to rid Japan of atomic power.

Secrets protection bill placed in Mori’s hands

Jiji

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to put Masako Mori, minister for measures against the declining birthrate, in charge of a state secrets protection bill.

Abe said the goal is to submit the bill at the extraordinary Diet session to be convened Oct. 15.

The bill would stiffen penalties for public officials who leak confidential information.

  • Estim8z

    She is a modern day Samurai, a real hero for the people, her parents and relatives should be proud!!

  • MeTed

    I don’t have much respect for many tarento, but this is a brave move. Her and Yamamoto are fighting against Japan inc. More celebrities need to follow them.

  • DeSwiss

    ”When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are ruled by criminals.” ~Anon

  • Mike Wyckoff

    This is the beginning of the popular movement, that will hopefully get your ordinary “Momotaro” off his desk and protest as all should in a proper democracy.

  • Stephen Kent

    What a pleasant surprise! Great to see a celebrity speaking out and encouraging people to take action. Excellent timing too, given Abe’s imminent visit to Fukushima with the house-trained Japanese press corps in tow and a strictly limited number of foreign journalists who are banned from speaking to workers at the plant.

  • A M Corbett

    I watched a documentary last year presented by an internationally known Japanese actor who went to Fukushima as part of the documentary to `witness the devastation`. But somehow it ended up being an extended ode to the greatness of Japanese trains and how they survived the force of the earthquake. True, if the trains had crashed there would have been more victims but even so… I wondered what the documentary was even made for.
    This actress/model seems much more sincere and her comments seem to apply to real people, not the power of trains. Pity to hear that guy lost a role because of his outspokenness but he will be proud later on of what he has spoken out about, than any tv role he might have won.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Good.
    Seeing that she has achieved success as a sex symbol, this gives her a chance to show that even so, she (and other women) can do more than sell cosmetics and the latest fashion.
    And it also shows the up and coming AKB48 generation that there is not necessarily an incompatibility between being feminine and being politically informed and engaged in the public sphere.
    That may be something with which her sponsors will be displeased.

  • keratomileusis

    Doesn’t this sound like that other country where whistle blowers are routinely prosecuted?

  • baruchzed

    Fukushima is an unprecedented disaster that may kill hundreds of millions. Japan will be a radiation zone soon, and be abandoned. The fact that none of this is discussed honestly in the media or by governments is appalling. I salute Norika Fujiwara for taking a public stand.

  • Michael Craig

    Japan should have more brave young people like Ms. Fujiwara! She should be in the Government!

  • KLC

    Japan is a democracy in name only. So many people who have spoken out, have lost their jobs, have been injured or killed in so-called “accidents”, or their family members have been harrassed. Attempting to change the law with only two weeks’ notice is a joke. Only it isn’t funny. The japanese government is trying one of the most gigantic cover-ups of all time, and on top of that theiy’re trying to shut up those who have the decency to speak. To me, this smacks more of totaltarianism than democracy.

    • Sasori

      Democracy, like society, requires civic participation. I see little to none, here.

  • http://oahutrading.blogspot.com/ steveo77

    You go girl!

  • 思德

    The silence of self censorship and the “it’s no good to complain” mentality must be broken if Japan is to be a place worth living in the 21st century. Knowing that some Japanese who believe in justice will not stay silent is encouraging; Japanese society MUST follow suit, or they will die fighting a lonely battle.

    • Sasori

      wishful thinking. I doubt anyone will be ‘fighting’ anything. As for the 21st century, that is for the rest of the world.

      • 思德

        Speak for yourself; not everybody in the world who disagrees with something also just goes along without taking action.

      • Sasori

        Well, by my statement, it’s clear I’m speaking for myself and not anyone else by using ‘I doubt’. Additionally, my comment was not a disagreement with you; I’m with you. However, ‘wishful thinking’, as I used, will not achieve anything; it merely enables the inaction your comment speaks out against (well, against is too strong, ‘about’ is probably better).
        This is one female celebrity bringing up one issue, amongst hundreds, just like celebrities in the U.S. Giving lofty and poetic praise to her doing this is just like doing nothing. If you truly support her idea or ideals, go someplace it matters and take a stand.
        Or, you could start small and practice what you’re preaching: When you see a smoker smoking at the train station or in a bus line, say something… to him, to the koban, to the station officer, or just out loud for everyone to hear. Well, unless you’re a smoker; then you’ll probably ignore that suggestion.
        If a bike squeaks in your ear and it’s ringing (and now permanently damaged), then say something, squeak back at the person, suggest that bicycles need maintenance like everything else and neglecting that is socially irresponsible. If the person complains and asks why you’re bothering him; use harsher language to sink your point in (I’d suggest a couple Beat Tokeshi movies for language pointers.).

        If you’re not going to start small, start locally, then shut up. I live here. I’m building a house here. I participate in society daily as in the examples I’ve given. In time, it does have a positive effect. Otherwise, you’re just an enabler. You enable these burdenous people to distort the fables ‘web of society’ that Japan is supposed to have. Yea, its so impressive; like the beautiful sakura tree… and the smoker sitting under it ruining life for everyone else.
        Even East Los Angeles gang members give up their seat for an elderly lady. And, if they don’t, someone will say something. So, yes, for the most part, people DO do something elsewhere. In Tokyo, that number is 1%; .25% of it being a Japanese male.

      • 思德

        No, you were definitely talking about other people not fighting:

        “I doubt anyone will be ‘fighting’ anything.”

        “Anyone” is who you are talking about in that sentence, in other words, “any human being”. And you said you doubt “anyone” will do anything. So you are, in fact, NOT talking about yourself.

        I do actually promote ideas of freedom in my social media. Probably most people ignore it, but the small platform I have, I use. I am an American, so I promote freedom in America, but I am glad to see that some people care about it in Japan, too.

        You also have to pick your battles, or you are simply written off as an annoying person who complains all the time. Certainly, foreigners are written off- after all, how could a foreigner really understand Japan? I’m being sarcastic there. Of course, cultural understanding is extremely helpful, and sometimes I do complain about things that I later discover have a good reason. Other things are not so.

        The best thing to do at the end of the day is not to fight something you are against, but be an example of what you are *for*. Naturally, there are times to oppose bad things, but I digress and trust you know what I mean and know that wisdom is knowing when to do what.

      • Sasori

        Sorry, but your interpretation is wrong. I’m not SPEAKING for anyone, I’m SAYING it is my doubt that anyone will participate.

        Nobody speaks for ANYONE. Nobody would say, ‘I speak for anyone when I say that cats don’t like chicken.’.
        You may be thinking about the common phrase, ‘I think I speak for everyone’; these are typically politicians.

      • Sasori

        ok, well, you seem to know everything, being an American. Before thinking that you understand anything ‘Japan’ you should try living there for over 18 months. Anything under 6 months and you’re still drinking the Kool-aid.
        Oh, and you should probably be over 20.

        So, you have no clue about life here. What threw me off is your initial comment about people actually doing something about… blah, blah. This is a particular point about japanese people. This is why the article talks about her ‘taboo’ move in basically going public. As it is, I’m a Californian living in Tokyo for over two years, now.

  • tomo

    Amazing!

    this person’s courage and personality is real!

  • IzizI

    I’ve always liked Ms. Fujiwara. She’s done a lot of charity work, too. Smart and beautiful. Good job, lady.

  • OlivierAM71

    I really wish her the best, and do hope she will not have to face discrimination by the Japanese TV system as Yamamoto had to.
    I am also really pleased to read here Yamamoto was elected to the upper House… I hope he will be able to voice out for all the people who are engaged against the current Japanese politics direction.

  • Joachim

    I’ll confess that I once thought that Fujiwara-san was just another vain, overpaid model-cum-pseudo-actress. But in recent years she’s proved herself to be one brave and decent lady.

  • Guest

    If Fujiwara was an American complaining about her government’s laws her “outburst” would not even make it to the news because it is so common there. In Japan, it’s as if she has done some great act of defiance against the state like Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War.

    Democracy requires a liberal civic society where robust public discourse and a culture of having and expressing “opinions” is encouraged. In this regard Japan is still stuck in the 1950s .