Speculation is rife in political circles that Yomiuri Shimbun might have written off the Abe administration. Yomiuri filed a critical report on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan for online companies to enter the broadcasting business in its March 17 morning edition. While some people said that this reflected the thinking of Nippon TV President Yoshio Okubo, formerly from Yomiuri, a government official concerned with media issues speculated that “Chief Editor Tsuneo Watanabe might have given the order.”
In its March 12 morning edition, Yomiuri reported the Finance Ministry’s document tampering and carried a four-column story on “seniors and women’s distrust of the prime minister” in relation to the sagging cabinet support rating.
For now, Watanabe has not been observed to say anything indicating he is abandoning Abe. It appears that his belief is that “no one else can be entrusted with constitutional revision and responding to the North Korea situation, which are issues he prioritizes.” The newspaper’s editorials on the document tampering scandals have also stopped at criticizing the Finance Ministry.
Watanabe is also said to have differences with Abe on the history issues, so an informed source indicated that he is “closely watching events cool-headedly.” It is a well-known fact Watanabe is well-disposed towards Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, a junior of his at Kaisei High School. Watanabe’s moves need to be watched very closely from now on.