Japan sinks down the press freedom tables

This is rather late news from this January, but RWB’s 2013 Press Freedom Index has interesting things to say about Japan:

Japan, demoted from 22nd to 53rd place, recorded the biggest drop of any Asian country. The reason was the ban imposed by the authorities on independent coverage of any topic related directly or indirectly to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Err, what? I’ve never heard of such a thing. There was a kerfuffle when there weren’t enough places allocated to foreign journalists for a tour of Fukushima Dai-ichi two years ago, but a ban on independent coverage of any topic? That’s a flat-out lie.

Several freelance journalists who complained that public debate was being stifled were subjected to censorship, police intimidation and judicial harassment.

It’s not as if journalists were being thrown into gulags! I do know who they are talking about here, however, but I cannot quite remember the Japanese journalist’s name.

The continued existence of the discriminatory system of “kisha clubs”, exclusive press clubs which restrict access to information to their own members, is a key element that could prevent the country from moving up the index significantly in the near future.

How is that? It was 22nd the previous year yet kisha clubs existed then too. Why suddenly pick on them as holding Japan back?

The secrets bill currently going through the upper house is, of course, a different kettle of fish.

Leave a comment ?


  1. [snip]

    We’re not interested. Go away.

  2. I thought the only freedom of the press that is important to an underemployed freelancer with a blog is being able to slander your personal enemies with impunity. And when that doesn’t work out, having other people do it for you, right?


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