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 explosive eruption on Mt. Shindake in Kagoshima Prefecture on Friday is likely to have involved the direct ejection of magma, or direct subterranean contact between magma and groundwater, experts say. (The Japan News)
A sudden volcano eruption on the small southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu-jima has forced authorities to raise the alert to the highest level and advise evacuation of the immediate area. (rt.com)
Twelve of the 29 suma mackerel tuna have died at Tokyo Sea Life Park in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, since the aquarium released the fish into its tank less than a week ago, it was learned Thursday. There has been a mysterious die-off of kuromaguro bluefin tuna, hatsugatsuo and other species of bonito at the aquarium since December. (The Japan News)
On May 21, police in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture arrested a woman on swindling charges after the cashier at a local store erroneously handed her an extra 45,000 yen (US$370) in change. (rocketnews24.com)
In a crackdown on a business believed to be supporting organized crime, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday announced the bust of an illegal pornographic DVD business in Shinjuku Ward, reports TV Asahi (May 26). (Tokyo Reporter)