A Japanese Scholar Claims that in Japan Freedom of the Press Is in Danger

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"The Japanese media operate in an environment where free speech is guaranteed by the law and the Constitution, and where there is no overt government censorship." But Tessa Morris-Suzuki charges that "The NHK Affair ... has exposed the extent to which formal media freedoms are being hollowed out by a combination of corrosive forces." (The NHK Affair involves charges that the broadcast giant caved in to pressure from the government to make changes in a documentary about the "subjection of women from colonized countries to institutionalized rape and sexual abuse in so-called “comfort stations” established by the Japanese military.")

"These forces," says Tessa Morris-Suzuki, "include, first, the lack of a vigorous political opposition; second, entrenched, behind-the-scenes links between media organizations and leading ruling party politicians; third, a tiny terrorist far right whose occasional acts of violence and repeated threats of violence the Japanese police have never been able or willing to constrain; and fourth, a mainstream commercial press whose competitive strategies include regular and well-choreographed verbal assaults on individuals or organizations seen as hostile to the political establishment."

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