We are familiar with the carrot-and-stick approach in the West, but the phrase in Japan is "ame to muchi" — literally, the candy and the whip.

For journalists in Japan, there's been a lot of whip in recent times and not much candy. How can we sweeten the deal?

Since the ruling coalition came to power, press freedom in the country is the only thing that has sunk faster than the value of the yen. Reporters Without Borders this year ranked Japan at a new low, dropping two places to 61 out of 180 countries and territories, just one below Korea and several notches below Croatia. It had ranked as high as 22 in 2012.