Critic Koga assails ‘lynching’ LDP, urges media to stand up for truth


Staff Writer

The former trade ministry bureaucrat who took on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration on one of the country’s most popular TV news programs called out Japan’s pliant media executives on Thursday for increasingly giving in to government pressure.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Shigeaki Koga noted a growing sense of fear among reporters at large media organizations. Last month, Koga staged a surprise show of protest during a live broadcast of the news program “Hodo Station,” criticizing the alleged deterioration of press freedoms under the Abe administration.

Koga cited a recent summons from the information and telecommunications strategy panel of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party to officials from NHK and TV Asahi, demanding they attend a meeting on Friday to answer questions about two separate scandals in which the broadcasters have been ensnared.

Experts have labeled the move by Abe’s party an attempt to quell criticism of his administration.

“Because it is the LDP, because it is the ruling party (making this request), the TV stations are reluctant or too fearful to say no,” Koga said.

“Had it been another party that had instructed them to come and talk to them, they might have said no. But because it is the LDP and the LDP is basically the ruling government, the TV stations cannot turn down this request.

“And when they face a barrage of questions, or are given advice, they will not be able to truly fight back or express very strong opinions in opposition to them,” he continued. “What we’re going to be seeing in this meeting is basically a kind of ‘mass lynching.’

“Of course it will not be overt, and on the surface the words and questions will be very polite, but the fundamental impression that the TV stations will receive is that they will feel a great deal of pressure,” Koga said.

Koga said this pressure is often generated internally.

“Top executives in very large mass media companies seem to be getting closer and closer, on a personal basis, to members of the government. They seem to be suriyoru (snuggling up) to people in power,” Koga said.

“Because they have very close ties, they feel very proud that they are at the heart of power, that they are moving things in the country, that they are very influential.”

This affects reporters in the field, Koga said, because it can prompt them to rein in coverage that might upset the government. “The question reporters are forced to ask themselves is: Will my corporate executives protect me or will they come down on me hard?” Koga said.

Amid this environment, Koga said, there has been a sense of self-censorship, with some journalists unaware they may be exercising greater restraint.

“Unfortunately, we’re not seeing the media fight back. We’re seeing the media basically trying to accommodate the pressures. . . . What that means is that reporters pull back, because they want to have a smooth relationship with the government.”

He added: “This goes to the heart of what a journalist is . . . to be aware that there is something wrong, and then to have the courage and ability to follow up and dig deeper and do investigative journalism.

But under Abe, “I think this ability to be aware of (wrongs) and to follow up on them is being lost.” This has translated to a severe lack of awareness among the general public regarding the political pressures facing the media in Japan, he said.

If news companies continue exercising self-restraint, Koga said, the kind of information that the public receives will be limited to that which is convenient for those in power.

“Without knowing it,” Koga said, “the people will be brainwashed . . . as a result, even though we will continue to have democratic elections . . . we may see . . . something close to a dictatorship become a reality in Japan.”

  • keratomileusis

    Go Koga! Sadly, Japan is following the US in becoming a country where the government operates in opacity, and facts don’t matter. Abe’s passing of a secrecy law should have raised concern, but Japanese are too distracted by their iPhones to notice. Keep on playing video games until it’s too late.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Sadly the Abe Shinzo administration is intent on creating a “beautiful country” 美しい国 in which only the people who pass government inspected beauty contests in terms of the way they think are allowed to make appearances. I have said before that the Abe mindset is proto-fascist, and he and his ilk are demonstrating that again and again.

    When will America speak to the oppression of freedom of expression in Japan? It was after all the MacArthur constitution that enshrined that right. Of course, Abe wishes to change the constitution to re inject beauty to Japan.

    • Brian

      Ha ha. The American government doesn’t care about the Japanese people. All they care about is turning Japan into a powerful Ally to “fight emerging threats in Asia”. And if that means having a leader with a proto-fascist mindset than that is that.

  • Richard Solomon

    The LDP is exerting similar pressures on professors who write or voice criticism of the government. The party or its right wing supporters have complained to universities where these professors work. Academic freedom is quietly being undermined by PM Abe and his cohorts.

  • Fumio Sakuragi

    residents in Japan blind or constitutional dyslexia? Koga san’s case, fortunately spectacular though, is
    common and not an exception. I was lynched several times in my

    a government office – where I subsequently lost benefit to borrow books from
    library as tit-for-tat punishment for having dared to voice rudimentary right.

    made in a committee meeting in the upper House by a Member of Parliament have been kept from the public eye since April 1. The
    minutes are not yet published, an infringement against
    open meetings or minute disclosure, because Mizuho
    Fukushima labeled there 14 bills or so submitted by the government as “war bills.”
    Calling a spade a spade is now
    verboten in the national assembly’s upper house. Suppression of opinions is not limited to
    broadcasters now. A national representative
    is not sovereign any more. Jon Stewart would be horrified to know that NHK or
    TV Asahi operators gladly disclose to government
    inquirers production details
    of their news or comments. What is
    the use of Constitution Article 21 guaranteeing freedom of press while banning
    inspection in separate


    You would
    be wasting time or simply suckers if you kept watching neutered TV programs. No rocking the
    boat is a government code of conduct. Poor Koga san whom no brave soul dare to
    rescue, because of sufferings and unemployment of a once-popular MC Takehiko
    Maeda, whom then-Fuji Sankei group boss Nobutaka Shikanai spirited away from the media industry in June 1973. He mentioned a political party’s name on the air, and it was the last
    banzai charge Maeda san exhibited.

    Japan has
    no lack of similar cases including Professor Tatsukichi Minobe and philosopher Kiyoshi Miki the latter of whom died in cage on
    September 26, 1946. Japan nonchalantly kept lynching many other poor birds many
    days after Douglas MacArthur landed on this island nation, because secrecy is well kept among group. Blatant intimidation or not. Bossism was one of pertinent practices the
    Potsdam-Declaration-led forces tried to eradicate from this island that is
    prone to abuse of power: a protruding nail will be hammered down.

    Look at
    university or elsewhere hospitals where doctors are intermittently concocting
    their operations or licensing
    designation of their specialty. If you think professional crimes are
    surreptitiously confined to medicine, you are flat blind even if equipped with a pair of
    saucer eyes. The operation like that comes to surface every 5 years or so. (Fujimi hospital had gruesome organ removals in 1980.) War bills happen every half
    a century or so. MP Fukushima may have her freedom of speech struck out or deprived, as far as tax-paid minutes are concerned, in Parliament – a venue
    to voice opinions.

    For sure, John Locke’s ideas of individual freedom, not
    state’s freedom of power as proclaimed by PM Abe, will eventually come back alive. The question is how
    long warmongers continue to prevail.
    The Japanese constitution, if you care to open its preamble, forewarns
    posterity’s suffering. It is written jointly by the Imperial government, whose abuse of power of 15 years
    forced itself to accept the unacceptable Potsdam Declaration, and by the arriving occupation forces and was passed by parliament. The current lower house, incidentally, has 39 women members, the same
    number in a constitution drafting house. How effectively one gender
    intimidation has continued to work against another for 69 years! Another case
    of coerciveness.