The Asahi Shimbun, under fire for erroneous reports on Japan’s wartime military brothels and the testimony of the late chief of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, revealed yet another blunder Sunday by admitting it fabricated an interview with the president of Nintendo Co. two years ago.
In a statement in its Sunday edition, the left-leaning major daily said it produced a story in June 2012 that appeared to be an interview with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, though the paper actually compiled remarks he had posted on Nintendo’s website.
The purported interview appeared in a story published on June 8, 2012, featuring interviews with several major game makers. The Asahi had asked the game console and software maker for an interview with Iwata but was turned down.
The Asahi then told Nintendo it wanted to write an article using remarks posted on the company’s website. The daily published the story, assuming it had gotten approval from Nintendo, according to the Asahi.
But Nintendo lodged a protest with Asahi over the story and the daily apologized for making it appear as though Iwata had been interviewed, according to Asahi’s statement.
The Asahi also stated it decided to run an apology to readers in the paper after learning about the Nintendo piece “through information from the outside.”
The Shukan Bunshun weekly ran the Nintendo scandal as its scoop in its online edition early Sunday. The weekly, which has run a series of exposes on the Asahi in recent weeks, accused the daily of “leaving the incident unattended, not correcting its report, for more than two years.”
The newspaper also drew fire recently when it refused to publish a column by popular journalist Akira Ikegami that was critical of the daily’s handling of a retraction involving some of its reports on Japan’s wartime military brothels.
On Sunday, meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the Asahi to widely publicize its admitted mistakes in articles on “comfort women” and that it has retracted them.
“The Asahi should make redoubled efforts on its own to make the world know that the articles have been withdrawn,” Abe said on a program on NHK, whose leader himself triggered a firestorm on the subject at the beginning of the year, marring the public broadcaster’s credibility.
In a review published in August, Asahi retracted a series of articles from the 1980s and 1990s because they quoted a Japanese man named Seiji Yoshida who stated that women on the South Korean island of Jeju were forcibly and violently taken to provide sex in brothels run by the Imperial Japanese Army. The man’s accounts were later found to be false, and he has since died.
“We also have to think of ways to explain internationally that (the reports in question) are not true,” Abe said.
On another TV program, Tomomi Inada, policy chief of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, criticized the Asahi for leaving the problematic reports unattended for so long.
The newspaper “should send a message about what it will do to restore Japan’s honor, rather than apologize,” she said.
The issue of the military brothels is one of the main sticking points in Japan-South Korea relations.