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.
A fault line running just below the No. 2 reactor of Japan Atomic Power Co.'s nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, is active, a panel of experts at the Nuclear Regulation Authority has concluded for the second time. (The Japan News)
Japan's education minister Hakubun Shimomura suggested Thursday that school curriculum guidelines be revised so as to allow elementary school English-language education to start in the third grade. (Jiji Press)
The number of visitors to Japan in January-October grew 27.1 percent from a year before to 11,009,000, already topping the full-year record of 10,363,904 marked in 2013, an estimate by the Japan National Tourism Organization showed Wednesday. (The Japan News)
According to various Japanese news sources, 83-year-old retiree Yasuji Shibata was arrested for selling obscene material via an Internet auction in April for 3,400 yen (about US$28) after police found explicit photos in his home on November 16. (rocketnews24.com)
Police raided Internet proxy server operators across Japan on Wednesday over a spate of online banking fraud cases, with at least two of the operators suspected of helping illegal access from China. (Jiji Press)
Chinese fans expressed an outpouring of sorrow for the death of veteran Japanese actor Ken Takakura, who rocketed to stardom here and became an icon who could bridge the icy relations that exist between the two nations. (Asahi)
Kyoto Prefectural Police on Wednesday morning arrested Chisako Kakehi, a 67-year-old woman linked to a number of mysterious deaths, for poisoning her husband last year, reports public broadcaster NHK (Nov. 19). (Tokyo Reporter)
On Saturday, officers from the Shinjuku Police Station arrested Masako Suzuki, a 31-year-old model with a background in the securities industry, and Yasutaka Okamura, the 66-year-old president of a financial firm, for falsely accusing the president of a chain of restaurants of rape and demanding payment, reports Sports Hochi. (Tokyo Reporter)