In the Friday Nov. 30 issue of The Japan Times, we published an Editor’s Note on our language regarding “comfort women” and “forced labor.”
Following multiple discussions on the issue that commenced more than a year ago, the decision to revise our descriptions of these terms was made by myself as executive editor, along with senior editorial managers, in the belief that the change would better reflect a more objective view of topics that are both contentious and difficult to summarize.
Given the complexity, the brief note was insufficient, and therefore led to a number of assumptions about the direction of The Japan Times, which came under new management in June 2017.
For our readers, the change warranted a more detailed and nuanced explanation of our decision. As a media organization, one of our duties is to communicate efficiently and avoid ambiguity. The note failed to do that.
We must acknowledge the fact that the note damaged the relationship of trust that we have developed with our readers, our writers and our staff. For this, we humbly apologize.
Although the note was not intended to signal a change in our overall editorial direction, we realize that this could be misconstrued as the result of political pressure. It pains us, as journalists, that this note has tarnished our reputation as an independent voice, and I categorically deny any accusations that The Japan Times has bowed to external pressure.
The Japan Times has long prided itself on its independence and adherence to the fundamental principles of quality journalism. This will not change.
We are currently engaged in further internal discussions to scrutinize and amend our language regarding these contentious issues. Furthermore, we intend to present our findings and fully clarify our descriptions of these controversial topics in the near future.
To improve as a media organization, it is important for us to listen to all of your voices.