The resounding victory by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the general election Aug. 30 not only will bring about a change of government but also is likely to shatter an exclusionary “press club” system that has long prevented freelance, non-Japanese and other nonmember journalists from interviewing the prime minister and other top political leaders.
Strange, if not absurd, though it may look, Japan has long had the system — in which one press club is established in the offices of the prime minister, government ministries, political parties and other organizations. Membership in the club is limited to major Japanese newspapers, press agencies and radio and TV stations. This means that only members of the press clubs can attend news conferences and question the prime minister, Cabinet minister and government officials.
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