Sankei reporter to hold firm in Park defamation suit


The Sankei Shimbun’s former Seoul bureau chief said he will stick to his guns during the trial over his alleged defamation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

“I fully explained to prosecutors about my story’s points as well as the reporting method, but they didn’t listen to me at all,” Tatsuya Kato, who was indicted on the charge Wednesday without being arrested, told media organizations in Seoul on Friday.

“I will stress this during the upcoming trial and hope to win a not-guilty ruling,” he said.

Kato has been banned from leaving South Korea due to the allegations.

On Friday, about 100 people staged a protest against the right-leaning newspaper in front of the building housing its Seoul bureau.

In the story in question, which mainly cited South Korean media stories and securities industry sources, Kato reported rumors that Park may have secretly met with a man during her reported seven-hour absence on April 16, when a South Korean ferry sank off its southern coast, killing over 300 passengers. The article was published on the newspaper’s Web site in early August.

“The president is the elected official with supreme power” in South Korea, Kato said. “As head of a democratic country, she should accept critical commentaries.

“I believe my story served the public interest,” Kato insisted.

“There were discussions in South Korea about what the president was doing during the seven hours, and various rumors spread while the South Korean government failed to give an explanation about it. I tried to inform Japanese readers about the situation,” he said.

Freedom of press “appears to be decreasing” in South Korea, Kato said. “I have heard that some people in the South Korean administration hate the Sankei Shimbun, so I think this could possibly be one of the factors that led to my indictment.”

  • timefox

    In South Korea, if a foreign newspaper publishing company quotes the contents reported in the South Korean newspaper, a foreign newspaper publishing company will be punished. It is a fearful country. What will differ from North Korea.

  • Ahojanen

    Media controls by the ROK government has already emerged after the Sewol ferry accident. Still the charge against Sankei is extremely bizarre. Freedom of press no longer exists.

  • Guest


  • truthseeker

    Last year,an old man (95) was killed by a young guy (38) in Seoul.
    The young guy killed the old man beating with his cane,
    because the old man said ‘I think the Japanese reign was good’.
    At least the freedom of opinion should be secured in the democratic society.
    Still now,not all but some South Koreans are suffering from anti-Japanese disease.
    Concerning Sankei paper case, I have to say same thing.
    The Seoul bureau chief Kato wrote an article only citing material in Korean papers.
    Then, why Korean editors were not accused ?
    Surely he used his own word ‘ lame duck ‘ to Ms. president Par

  • Ethicalone

    Publishing rumors isn’t exactly the spirit of journalism is it?