Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

【#455】Stop TV Fascism

Eitaro Ogawa / 2017.07.27 (Thu)

July 24, 2017

     Television stations are getting out of control.
     For six months, media have continued to report on “scandals” involving school entities Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution. (Moritomo Gaukuen with links to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife has bought a government land at a heavily discounted price, while Kake, led by one of Abe’s friends, has got a government permit to create a new university department.) However, what happened had nothing to do with Prime Minister Abe’s official authority. In regard to the Kake case, an anonymous in-house memo made at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been revealed, including the word “the prime minister’s intention.” Media concluded that as far as the memo includes the word “the prime minister’s intention,” the prime minister should be held accountable. If such arbitrary conclusion is valid, not only the Abe cabinet but all organizations will collapse. The whole of MEXT documents leaked so far clarifies that Senior Vice Minister of MEXT Hiroyuki Yoshiie and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda, both close aides to Prime Minister Abe, have not heard of any intention of the prime minister and have carefully followed administrative procedures. Instead of reporting the whole of the documents, however, media have taken advantage of “the prime minister’s intention” alone for bashing Abe desperately.

Media reports ignoring remarks by witnesses
     Particularly, TV stations exposed their unreasonable attitude when reporting on the National Diet’s deliberations during its recess on the Kake issue on July 10. While Kihei Maekawa, a former vice Minister of MEXT, Eiji Hara, a member of the Cabinet Office’s working group on national strategic special zones, and Moriyuki Kato, a former governor of Ehime Prefecture, attended the deliberations as unsworn witnesses, all TV stations focused on remarks by Maekawa while mostly ignoring remarks by Hara and Kato that were not useful for bashing the Abe government. (Broadcast hours and other details are now under my check.)
     As TV stations can use radio waves almost exclusively, Article 4 of the Broadcast Act requires broadcasters to be politically fair and refrain from distorting facts.
     It may be needless to say that current episode represents clear violation of the Article 4. Rather, I should say the problem has gone beyond the violation. All TV stations brushed off remarks by the two witnesses that could not be used for criticizing the Abe government, indicating that a society under TV terror or a TV terrorism is silently occupying Japan.

TV stations should be legally held accountable
     I launched an “Association of Audience Demanding TV Stations’ Compliance with Broadcast Act” in 2015 and have continued my activities since. However, I have no choice but to conclude that it is impossible to demand TV stations’ compliance with the Broadcast Act while expecting their decency.
     The establishment of an official supervisory body for broadcasters or penalties for Broadcast Act violators may consume too much time. As a measure that can be immediately taken and satisfy the people, I would like to propose the revision of the Broadcast Act to require TV stations to hold and broadcast their respective press conferences every week.
     While media frequently use the word “accountability,” they themselves have great power and should be accountable for what they broadcast. Holding TV stations accountable in public for fabrication of facts or false reporting may be the only way to stop TV stations’ reckless reporting for the immediate future. As this measure includes no penalty or restriction of reporting, it will not contradict the freedom of the press.
     The measure has to be taken in a hurry. Already, TV fascism has become real.

Eitaro Ogawa is a literary critic.