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U.N. official cites undue pressure on media; Japan plans rebuttal

  • May 24, 2017
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 4:05 p.m.
  • English Press

By Kayoko Geji, Nozomi Matsui


A United Nations rapporteur has raised concerns about the Japanese government and ruling coalition exerting undue pressure on the media and influencing the content of history textbooks.


A full report submitted by David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, will be released at the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting scheduled to start in Geneva on June 6.


Foreign Ministry officials on May 24 summarized the contents of Kaye’s draft report to a panel within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party studying the international situation.


Government officials said the draft contained many inaccurate points, and a counterargument would be submitted to the rapporteur.


One point in the draft raised by Kaye, who is also a professor of international law at the University of California, Irvine, law school, was the independence of Japan’s media.


Citing pressure from the government and ruling coalition, the draft report called for rescinding Article 4 of the Broadcast Law that urges broadcasters to “be politically fair,” among other provisions they have to follow.


The draft report also noted the government influence over history education through the screening process for school textbooks, including the issue of “comfort women” who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.


It pointed to the infringement of the rights of Takashi Uemura, a former reporter for The Asahi Shimbun who wrote a number of articles about comfort women.


Another topic covered was the state secrets protection law that took effect in 2014. The report said the wide range of possible subjects that could be designated as state secrets means there is insufficient protection of journalists.


Concerns were also raised about freedom of expression through public demonstrations. The report described as unnecessary and inappropriate the restrictions against those protesting central government action in Okinawa Prefecture.

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