Retraction-hit Asahi admits fabricating interview with Nintendo chief

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

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“The Asahi should make redoubled efforts on its own to make the world know that the articles have been withdrawn,” Abe said on a program on NHK, whose leader himself triggered a firestorm on the subject at the beginning of the year, marring the public broadcaster’s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.

  • Carmen Sterba

    The fact that Asahi newspaper reported false information from Seiji Yoshida is regrettable. However, it would be illogical and unethical for nationalistic politicians and their supporters to believe that Asahi’s mistakes prove there was no forced sex trade by the Japanese Imperial Army.

  • timefox

    Service in the war disappeared and it became mere comfort women. Aside from it, it could say to every media in fabrication of a report. Is the report which you believe true? From now on, I will suspect all the reports.

  • Satoru Nishikawa

    When it comes to discuss about the comfort
    woman, you have to define the term of “force” or “coercion” strictly, because
    there’s a big difference between “forced or coerced by the then Japanese Army”
    and “ forced or coerced by the then middlemen like general pimps”. If the
    comfort women were forced by the Japanese Army, all the blame will be returned
    to Japanese government, but if they were forced by the civilian middlemen, the
    commercial sex trades were conducted between the mutual acknowledgement of the
    concerned parties, like between a middleman and normally a person or the persons
    who used to have full authorities to “sell a woman to them” even if the trade
    itself was done against the individual woman’s will, as the prostitution
    history shows the backgrounds of the issue. If you want to appeal to the ethic
    or morals, please skip to the current prostitution all over the world. The more
    you study about the prostitution, the more different opinions you will be
    likely to have in the end, because this so-called oldest business is rooted
    deeply in human desires and natures whether you like or not, so you cannot
    judge it from the superficial point of view. Maybe now is a good time for all
    of us to mull over the prostitution itself well.

  • Stephen Kent

    Abe must have thought that Christmas had come early when he found out that the Asahi had admitted to those articles being false. I can imagine him sitting there, grinning, believing that because a newspaper had produced a series of articles based on false testimony from one man twenty years ago the “honour” of the Imperial Japanese Army was now beyond any kind of doubt, and that any subsequent disagreements about history could be solved by the overwhelming evidence of some erroneous newspaper articles. WHEN is he going to realise that no amount of arguing over details is going to make people come to see the wartime Japanese government in a new and favourable light? Surely some part of his brain must be able to see that his constant implicit denial of the burgeoning historical truth is preventing his country from having any chance of restoring normal relations with its regional neighbours.