One of the nation's leading newspapers has been in crisis mode of late — a situation that may bode ill for liberal journalism at a time when nationalism appears to be making public inroads.

The venerable Asahi Shimbun has been rocked by three scandals, first involving what the newspaper admitted are erroneous reports, drawing flak from readers in general, from weekly magazines and from two of Tokyo's six major newspapers: the right-leaning rival Sankei Shimbun and the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun.

The critics claim the Asahi has damaged the honor of the Japanese people via its alleged erroneous articles over sensitive issues, most particularly over the wartime "comfort women" — females from Japanese-occupied areas who had to provide sex for the nation's armed forces.