Last month, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung journalist Carsten Germis wrote about the Japanese government harassing him just for doing his job. In his view, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is overly sensitive to criticism, especially reporting about what Germis calls "a move by the right to whitewash history."

The Japanese consul general in Frankfurt, Hideyuki Sakamoto, allegedly accused Germis of taking money and abetting the Chinese propaganda machine. In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday, Sakamoto denied he made such comments, but the editor he met, Peter Sturm, emailed me and confirmed the consul general made the allegations (and in excellent German) and that there was no misunderstanding.

Officials everywhere get testy about negative coverage, a fact that doesn't surprise Walter Hatch, director of the Oak Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.