• Kyodo

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For peace to endure in East Asia, media outlets must remain neutral and levelheaded, a group of experts said at a symposium in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Hosted by the Japan Press Research Institute, the forum brought together media representatives and academics from Japan, China and South Korea as well as English-language media.

Panelists pointed to the difficulty of reporting on diplomatic issues in a way that does not either stir up parochial nationalism at home or strike foreign audiences as propaganda.

Media must take care in reporting to promote — and to avoid undermining — reconciliation over historical issues that continue to strain diplomatic ties between Japan and both China and South Korea, said keynote speaker Mike Mochizuki, a professor at George Washington University.

“The mass media plays an important role in shaping and reproducing collective memories and understandings of the past, whether accurate or not,” Mochizuki said.

The panelists touched on different media interpretations of the Nov. 10 talks in Beijing between Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as the impact of using differing expressions to refer to historical concerns.

The panelists also pointed to the indictment in South Korea of Tatsuya Kato, former Seoul bureau chief of the Sankei Shimbun daily, on charges of defaming South Korean President Park Geun-hye, as a concern for press freedom.

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