The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has been reluctant to give Japan’s public broadcaster NHK an interview with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy due to controversial remarks about Japanese history made by a member of its management body, sources close to the matter said Friday.
A public relations official at NHK said the broadcaster withholds comment “on the processes of news coverage and program production.” An embassy official said no comments can be made about the envoy’s schedule.
According to the sources, NHK asked the embassy to give it an interview with Kennedy shortly after she took up her post in Tokyo last Nov. 15 and talks went on as the embassy relayed its hope the interview should appear on NHK’s “Close-up Gendai” television news show.
But a press officer at the embassy told NHK staff who visited in early February that Naoki Hyakuta’s controversial remark has made it difficult to arrange an interview and that it reflects the ambassador’s and Washington’s will, they said, adding NHK has since not received a formal reply to its request.
Hyakuta, one of 12 NHK governors, said in a Feb. 3 campaign speech for Tokyo gubernatorial election candidate Toshio Tamogami, a former Air Self-Defense Force chief, that the post-World War II tribunal was carried out to hide the “genocide” of air raids on Tokyo as well as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. forces.
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, known as the Tokyo Trials, heard the cases of Japanese leaders indicted for war crimes including Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo and handed down judgments on them.
Hyakuta, who is a novelist, also said the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China by Japanese troops never happened.
On Feb. 8, a U.S. Embassy official in charge of press said the U.S. government’s consensus view was that the remarks were “preposterous.”
Anger over the remarks has also spread to other parts of the international community, with China’s Foreign Ministry strongly criticizing Hyakuta’s comments about the Nanjing Massacre.