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Regarding the July 16 Kyodo article “Public reactor hearing (Sendai) rocked by alleged government shill“: A Japanese seminar or workshop usually has a question-and-answer time at the end for audience members. People are so shy that none wants to ask the first question. An awkward silence may ensue. To prevent this, we often select shills (sakura) beforehand to ignite a discussion. In the nuclear industry, though, shills are evidently aimed at manipulating opinion. We should call them “malignant shills.”

In Japanese society, a meeting or hearing that causes an uproar is a disgraceful affair for bureaucrats and salarymen, so they work hard to avoid it. This has brought about a “closed village” society that tends to keep unfavorable information from the public.

The government and utility companies must stop their sloppy manipulations, including the use of shills, if they really want to hear the opinions of citizens living near nuclear power stations.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

shuichi john watanabe

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