Enervated by relentless media coverage of his scandal-tainted Cabinet, Shinzo Abe ended his first stint as prime minister in 2007 feeling bullied. Five years later, a vengeful Abe returned to the nation's helm wiser and stronger — this time, as some note today, as a bully toward the media.

The Abe administration recently terrified the nation's TV stations by seeking to eviscerate the decades-old Broadcast Act — a move critics say would open the floodgates to forays by internet media companies and possibly "destroy" existing broadcasters long protected by the law.

Experts say the attempt to gut the law adds to the undercurrent of official hostility toward critical coverage, which Abe and his aides have gone to extraordinary lengths to curb and counterattack since his return to power in 2012.