Editorial directors of Okinawan newspapers criticize LDP members’ remarks: Truly dangerous suppression of free speech

Editorial directors of Okinawan newspapers criticize LDP members' remarks: Truly dangerous suppression of free speech

Chief Editors Kazuhiko Taketomi of the Okinawa Times (left) and Yoshikazu Shiohira of the Ryukyu Shimpo give a press conference. At Japan National Press Club, Uchisaiwaicho, Tokyo in the afternoon of July 2.

July 3, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On July 2, the chief editors of the Ryukyu Shimpo and the Okinawa Times gave press conferences on the topic of the LDP media suppression issue at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) and the Japan National Press Club (JNPC) in Chiyoda Ward. Ryukyu Shimpo chief editor Yoshikazu Shiohira pointed out that the comments by members at the LDP study session in question constitute an endorsement of suppressing free speech by eliminating freedom of the press, which is extremely dangerous. Okinawa Times chief editor Kazuhiko Taketomi criticized the LDP Diet members who show arrogance in thinking they are always in the right. Both editors warned that in Japan, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and democracy itself are in a state of crisis.

Also on July 2, the FCCJ published a statement from the president of the club stating, “We urge the ruling party and the government to refrain from actions that can – or could appear to – affect the freedom of the press.”

Approximately 100 reporters from foreign media outlets attended the FCCJ conference, while 161 reporters attended the JNPC conference, indicating high interest in this issue.

Lower House member Hideo Ohira said in the LDP meeting; “The best way to punish the media is to take away their advertising revenue. We should lobby the Keidanren (an organization of Japan’s major business leaders),” Chief Editor Shiohira stated; “Such comments denote the idea of eliminating freedom of the press by ‘starving into submission’ any media outlets that don’t toe the government line, which is an extremely dangerous idea.” He further argued against Lower House member Takashi Nagao’s comment that Okinawa’s two newspapers are distorting public opinion by stating, “If Okinawa’s newspapers were presumptuous enough to try to toy with public opinion, they would have lost the public’s support a long time ago.”

Okinawa Times Chief Editor Taketomi stressed; “Newspaper companies are driven by public opinion, not the other way around. People must understand that our reporting reflects the sentiment of the Okinawan people.” He further stated; “Many media outlets are reporting on this issue. They must have interpreted [those comments] as a challenge to the media as a whole.”

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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