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.
The fates of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh remain unknown after a deadline purportedly set by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for the release of would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for Goto passed at sunset Thursday. (The Japan News)
The Aichi Prefectural Police said Friday that the 19-year-old Nagoya University student who has admitted killing a 77-year-old woman last month apparently used her cellphone to take pictures of the victim's corpse. (Japan Times)
Manga giant Katsuhiro Otomo won the Grand Prix Award at the prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival on Jan. 29, marking the first time that a Japanese creator took the event's top honor. (Asahi)
Police in Saitama Prefecture said Thursday they have arrested 11 people who, as part of an organized scam group, call up individuals claiming that they had missed a payment for using a website that is actually free to use. (Japan Today)
A Nagoya University student who says she killed an elderly woman found dead in the 19-year-old's apartment has also admitted poisoning a former high school classmate, investigative sources said Thursday. (Japan Times)
Paul McCartney, who had to cancel all his concerts in Japan last year due to an illness, announced on his blog Thursday that he will return to Japan for four concerts in April as part of his "Out There" world tour. (Japan Today)