Japanese politicians are starting to play hardball with traditional newspaper and television media. Taking advantage of new freedom to use Facebook FB +0.45%, Twitter and other virtual platforms as an alternative for getting their views across to the public even in an election campaign, they are now less reliant and arguably less willing to be compliant with newspapers and TV.
For one broadcaster, this has resulted in the unthinkable: a possible loss of access to senior ruling party politicians, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during the campaign for the July 21 upper house election. The July contest will be the first election in Japan allowing candidates to use the Internet to reach out to voters.
On Thursday, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced that it will boycott one of the major networks, TBS, for the foreseeable future due to what the party considered a "biased and unfair" portrayal of the LDP in a TBS news program that aired last week.
"Until TBS responds in a sufficient manner, none of our executive members will appear in its programs or respond to coverage requests," the LDP said in an issued statement demanding an official apology.
What irked the party was a comment critical of the LDP by a natural energy activist in a TBS news program on June 26. The LDP said it has no qualms about the factual validity of the report, but sees the editorial presentation of the piece as problematic.
The statement said the LDP couldn't allow TBS to "cunningly highlight a negative image of our party."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that "parties are in the middle of a fierce election battle. We need fair media coverage."
Describing the situation as "very unfortunate," TBS spokesman Toshiyuki Nagai said that while protests by lawmakers and political parties to media organizations are common, he couldn't remember a boycott during an election campaign. He said TBS will continue to request appearances, and hopes that the two sides can come to an understanding, but if the ban stays in effect, a party-leader debate scheduled for next week will have to take place without Mr. Abe or senior-lawmaker representation from the LDP.
Japan's whaling fleet set out for the Antarctic on Tuesday to resume a hunt for the mammals after a year-long hiatus, prompting criticism from Australia as well as key ally, the United States. (Japan Today)
East Japan Railway Co. suspended operation of its new train on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo only a day after its debut Monday after multiple malfunction warnings were displayed on the driver's cab monitor, company sources said. (Japan Times)
Police in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture, have arrested a 23-year-old man and his 17-year-old wife over the fatal abuse of their 16-day-old daughter. The infant died after she was placed in a trash can, Fuji TV reported. (Japan Today)
Manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, who died Nov. 30 at age 93, enjoyed living like a cat--sleeping whenever he felt like it, and then waking up with a big yawn. He was convinced from boyhood that he "could never live any other way than as a lazy bum." (Asahi)
Tochigi Prefectural Police on Monday arrested a 33-year-old housewife in Utsunomiya City for attempting to kill her estranged husband by poisoning his alcohol, reports Nippon News Network (Nov. 30). (Tokyo Reporter)
The Osaka District Court on Monday found a 20-year-old mother not guilty of causing the death last year of her 3-year-old daughter, who had an intractable disease, by not feeding her sufficiently. (Japan Today)
Seventy seated Buddhist monks intoned "nenbutsu" prayers and "wasan" hymns while swaying their bodies in unison during the annual memorial service at the famed Higashi-Honganji temple in Shimogyo Ward here on Nov. 28. (Asahi)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday re-arrested more than a dozen suspects, including one organized crime member, as a part of an ongoing health insurance fraud investigation that now includes comedians affiliated with a major entertainment agency, reports Sports Hochi (Nov. 28). (Tokyo Reporter)