Ryukyu Shimpo, Okinawa Times issue joint protest statement over Hyakuta remarks

June 26, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Novelist Naoki Hyakuta’s claim that the two newspapers of Okinawa should be shut down is an example of suppression of free speech; media will only be allowed to report on what meets the intentions of the administration. These are absurd remarks that deny the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are the foundation of democracy.

Hyakuta has a freedom to speak out. However, on the occasion of the meeting held at the headquarters office of the Liberal-Democratic Party, the ruling party in the Diet, lawmakers mounted criticism against the local newspapers of Okinawa, prompting Hyakuta’s remarks. We cannot overlook his remarks, including the discussion that led to them.

In addition, he also remarked, “[U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma] was originally located in a rice field. People began to live near the base, where it is convenient for doing business.” This is not correct because the former Ginowan village office was located near the current runway before the war, and had been a center for the community since the Ryukyu Kingdom era. We would like to ask him to admit his factual error.

Okinawa’s newspapers cooperated with the government’s policy to wage the war before and during the war. After the war, Okinawa’s newspapers started their own business, regretting that they had committed the fault of supporting the government’s war policy. Many media people do not want reporting to once again support the lead up to war.

It is a matter of course for media outlets to publish critical reports on the government because journalism has a watchdog role, which means monitoring the political power. A society that secures the right to critical reports of those in power is a sound one. It is simplistic and dangerous to think that media should be shut down because they are critical of the government. We think it is a dangerous threat not only to the two newspapers of Okinawa, but to the mass-media outlets in the country.

The Ryukyu Shimpo and the Okinawa Times will resolutely oppose attempts to attack the freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Yoshikazu Shiohira the editor in chief of the Ryukyu Shimpo
Kazuhiko Taketomi the editor in chief of the Okinawa Times

(English translation by T&CT)

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