Worries are growing in Japan about a trend toward media self-censorship as journalists and experts say news organizations are toning down criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government for fear of sparking ire and losing access to sources.

No one is accusing Abe's administration of overt meddling in specific news coverage, but media insiders and analysts say the government's message is getting through.

"The media did, in recent years, play a much more positive role in . . . making people in power squirm. In the Abe era, they have begun pulling back," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University's Japan campus.