Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi said the government can order broadcasters to suspend operations if they continue to air TV programming that is deemed politically biased, a remark that may be perceived as repressing free speech.

During a Lower House Budget Committee session Tuesday, Takaichi, a conservative Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, repeated her assertion from the previous day that the government is legally authorized to order stations and networks to cease broadcasting if they ignore official calls to remain "politically neutral," as stipulated in the broadcasting law.

"I don't think I would resort to such measures myself. But there is no guarantee that future internal affairs ministers won't," Takaichi said Tuesday.