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The Asahi Shimbun has fired a 28-year-old reporter at its Nagano bureau and removed a senior editor over false information of a meeting between a former Liberal Democratic Party policy chief and the governor of Nagano.

The Asahi, which boasts the second-highest circulation in the nation, said it fired Taku Nishiyama effective Monday for manufacturing details of a fictitious meeting between Shizuka Kamei and Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, and removed Tadakazu Kimura from his supervisory role as managing editor at the paper’s Tokyo headquarters.

“The fact that he made up reports on something he never actually covered and that the notes were used in stories undermined the credibility of the Asahi Shimbun. This is an extremely serious situation,” the Asahi’s managing director, Shinichi Yoshida, said.

The paper published one story in its Aug. 21 morning edition and another the following day that included information from the fictitious notes.

Nishiyama made up notes, including quotes, saying Kamei and Tanaka had met in Nagano Prefecture to discuss creating new parties for the Sept. 11 House of Representatives election, according to the Asahi.

Nishiyama e-mailed the fictitious information to his bureau chief, the Asahi’s chief reporter in charge of covering the Nagano Prefectural Government, and the newspaper’s political news reporters at the Tokyo headquarters.

Nishiyama told an in-house investigation he regretted making up the information and said he did it because he was eager for recognition.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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