Japanese politicians bite back against media
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.

May 31
Japan put its military on alert on Monday for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, ordering naval destroyers and anti-ballistic missile Patriot batteries to be ready to shoot down any projectile heading for Japan. (Japan Today)
May 31
Japanese searchers scoured thick forest Monday, looking for a seven-year-old boy whose parents left him in mountain woods as a punishment, in a case that has infuriated the public. (Japan Today)
May 31
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to delay the planned consumption tax hike for 2-and-a-half years. But he vowed not to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election. (NHK)
May 31
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani announced Monday that the Self-Defense Forces will be pulled out of Kumamoto Prefecture, 1½ months after the area was hit by strong earthquakes. (Japan Times)
May 30
The Japanese government said on Monday it was doing all it could to secure the release of a Japanese journalist being held hostage by an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, after an apparent photograph of the man was posted on the Internet. (Japan Today)
May 30
Fukuoka Prefectural Police are investigating a 29-year-old female sex worker already in custody for attempted murder in a separate case in which an acquaintance fell to her death from a bridge, reports the Sankei Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 30
Five men died and another man remains in a coma after the station wagon they were traveling in plunged into a dam in Kawachinagano, Osaka Prefecture, on Sunday afternoon. (Japan Today)
May 30
A taxi company was penalized on Tuesday over one of its drivers refusing to pick up a man and his guide dog because it would've made the seats "dirty." (Tokyo Reporter)
May 29
Experts investigating a jet that caught fire at Tokyo's Haneda Airport say some engine turbines were severely damaged. (NHK)
May 27
Saitama Prefectural Police have arrested two organized crime members for operating a grow house for marijuana in Soka City, reports TV Asahi. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
Hanako, Japan's oldest elephant who made headlines for spending most of her life alone in a concrete enclosure, died at 69 in Tokyo on Tuesday, NHK (May 26) reported. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
A utility knife sitting on the floor near an intoxicated man's bag caused quite a stir in a Tokyo subway station, NHK reported on Thursday (May 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
A Japanese man was arrested Wednesday in Thailand on suspicion of raping and sexually harassing a number boys aged between 13 and 15 in the country's northern province of Chiang Mai, investigators said. (Japan Times)
May 26
The Yokohama District Court on Wednesday handed an American male an 18-month prison sentence in the death of a woman in Miura City last July, reports NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 25
A panel of Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department came up with a report on Wednesday calling for legal regulations on the so-called JK business, in which high school girls offer such services as massage and dating. (Jiji Press)