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Fuji TV apologizes for subtitles inaccurately quoting South Koreans

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Fuji TV apologized Monday for running subtitles during a show earlier this month that inaccurately described South Koreans interviewed on the street as saying they “hate” Japan.

The apology came after online criticism mounted over the weekend, with people saying the major broadcaster may have fabricated the subtitles to breed anti-Korea sentiment among the Japanese public.

When contacted by The Japan Times on Monday, Fuji TV denied such an allegation, explaining that the subtitles were simply a result of human error during the editing process and that there was absolutely no malice intended.

The show, “Akira Ikegami Kinkyu Special,” which translates as “Akira Ikegami Emergency (or Urgent) Special,” aired on June 5, a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and South Korea.

Moderated by popular freelance journalist Akira Ikegami, the program featured a segment about “why Koreans hate the Japanese so much.”

Among people interviewed on the streets of Seoul was a high school girl, who, according to the subtitles, said, “I hate Japan because it tormented Korea.”

However, she can be heard saying in Korean: “(South Korea) has a rich culture. I think that’s why many foreigners visit us.”

Another, a man in his 30s, was also misrepresented. According to the subtitles, he expressed “hatred” for this country, when in fact he was only criticizing what he called Japan’s lack of remorse for its wartime atrocities.

Fuji TV explained that both of them indeed spoke of their dislike of Japan during the interviews, but it accidentally ran clips that didn’t contain that message.

“We aired these inaccurate clips because of a mix-up during the editing process as well as our failure to check the final footage sufficiently,” the broadcaster said.

In an online petition started Saturday on Change.org to demand a public apology from Fuji TV, campaigners blasted the erroneous subtitles as an “intolerable” fabrication that undermines public trust in journalism.

By mid-afternoon Monday, the petition had more than 2,000 signatures.