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Japan has climbed one place in the 2020 world press freedom rankings to reach 66th place, media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders announced Tuesday.

The Paris-based group, known as RSF, also warned that moves to strengthen media control are increasing mainly in regions hit hard by outbreaks of COVID-19.

RSF’s latest survey covered 180 countries and regions.

Regarding Japan, the organization criticized “kisha clubs,” or reporters’ clubs, saying the system “continues to discriminate against freelancers and foreign reporters.”

RSF also expressed concern that social media posts critical of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration become targets of attacks.

China’s position in the rankings was unchanged, at 177th place. The country has used the COVID-19 crisis “to further tighten its control of the media,” RSF said.

Iran fell to 173rd from 170th. The top four slots were occupied by Northern European countries, while North Korea was at the bottom.

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