National / Media

Asahi rejected columnist's take on sex slave retraction

Kyodo

Journalist Akira Ikegami said Wednesday the Asahi Shimbun has rejected his column about the major newspaper’s recent extensive review of its own past “comfort women” reports, and he has therefore asked the publisher to terminate his serialized commentaries.

In a manuscript for his monthly column about newspaper reports scheduled for publication intended for August, Ikegami said he touched on the Asahi’s review, which was published in its Aug. 5 and 6 editions.

In the review, the paper retracted some of its past articles, acknowledging as false a man’s statements about having forcibly and violently taken Korean females under orders of the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.

“I had always been able to write freely, but I was told that they cannot run it this time around,” Ikegami said. “I thought that would undermine the relationship of trust and offered to call off (the column).”

The Asahi’s public relations office said, “It is not that an official decision has been made about terminating the column series, and we are planning to continue sincere discussions with Mr. Ikegami.”

The Asahi has also rejected running advertisements by two major weekly magazines for their editions that were scheduled for sale beginning Thursday, according to the magazines’ publishers, Bungeishunju Ltd. and Shinchosha Publishing Co.

Both weeklies carried articles that criticized the Asahi’s reporting of issues related to comfort women.

Ikegami, a sought-after freelance journalist on television and print media, had commented on the Asahi and other newspapers’ reports by focusing on specific themes in his monthly column, “Ikegami Akira no Shimbun Nanameyomi,” in the Asahi, with the last critique carried Aug. 1 about media reports on quasi-legal drugs.

In the June article, the former reporter with NHK criticized the Asahi for not taking up local assemblymen’s heckling against a female legislator sooner in its widely read serialized column “Tensei Jingo,” saying that “its slow reaction is regrettable.”

In its Aug. 5 edition, the Asahi noted in a front-page opinion piece — titled “To squarely face the essence of the comfort women issue” — about “baseless criticism on the Internet and elsewhere that the comfort women issue is a fabrication of the Asahi Shimbun.”

The newspaper said that its extended review is intended to hold itself responsible to its readers and also to start new discussions for the future of the paper.

“We cannot write off the fact that there were women who were forced to provide sex to soldiers of the Japanese military and other people during the war,” it said.