Weekly magazine Shukan Shincho has admitted a memoir it published by a man who claimed responsibility for a fatal 1987 shooting at the daily Asahi Shimbun’s Hanshin bureau is false.
In its April 23 edition, the magazine will apologize in a 10-page article titled “How ‘Shukan Shincho’ was cheated by the ‘false attacker’ ” for running the false memoir.
The man suddenly changed his statement and said he is not the attacker, according to the article, which was written by Shukan Shincho’s editor, Kiyoshi Hayakawa.
The magazine didn’t make a sufficient effort to substantiate the man’s statement, Hayakawa said in the article. “We are deeply ashamed of the fact that we did not have the acute observation to see the real nature of the mendacious man, and for hurting public trust toward magazine journalism,” he said.
According to the article, Shukan Shincho in November 2007 began corresponding with the man, who was serving time in Abashiri Prison in Hokkaido. The man had written to the magazine’s editorial department implying he was connected to the high-profile shotgun attack on the newspaper’s bureau. The man wrote about 50 letters to the magazine over the course of a year, the article said.
Reporters working on the article visited the man in January 2008 and interviewed him nearly 200 hours. He was freed in January, the article said.
The magazine carried his memoir as a four-part series starting with the Feb. 5 issue because it believed it had considerable credibility, Hayakawa said, denying making up any of its contents.
The Asahi Shimbun concluded the memoir was “a lie” after conducting its own examination and requested an apology from the publisher of the magazine.
The article said rightwing activists started raising questions after the first part of the memoir was published. The magazine’s reporters, however, began suspecting something was amiss with the man’s personal history and his story after doing some belated fact-checking.
“What Shukan Shincho did is akin to selling poisoned dumplings. If they were a food firm, they could go bust,” writer Shinichi Sano said. “They already knew that the man was suspicious right after the first article came out, but they ran the entire four parts, which is a sign the magazine lacked crisis management. . . . What the readers want to know is the truth, and they will not forgive this.”
Information about the man who provided the memoir, including his identity and the crime he served time for, was not provided. At the time of the slaying, reports suggested police suspected the attack was rightist-inspired.
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