Adults in the Student Suicide Case

Kyodo Pursues Ishikawa With The External Activity Regulations, After Defamation Failed (9)

2023.07.27 13:48 Nanami Nakagawa

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. on November 14, 2022, Kyodo News reporter Yoichi Ishikawa was finally released from the hearing by his company.

Kyodo News argued that Ishikawa defamed the Nagasaki Shimbun in his book “The Sanctuary of Bullying: A Complete Record of Parents Who Challenged the Darkness of Catholic School,” which follows the bullying-suicide case of Hayato Fukuura in Nagasaki. They held Ishikawa in a hearing for two hours.

For Kyodo News, the member company Nagasaki Shimbun is a “customer.” Member companies cover three-quarters of Kyodo’s operating costs. Toru Mizutani, president of Kyodo News, even stated that “without member companies, Kyodo News would not exist.”

However, Ishikawa’s criticism of the Nagasaki Shimbun is based on a fact. During the hearing, Ishikawa repeatedly explained that the description in his book was accurate. He also said that he had no intention of apologizing to the Nagasaki Shimbun.

Kyodo News took the next step.

Kyodo News’ headquarters, Shiodome Media Tower (Photo by Tansa)

Demand for another hearing

On November 18, 2022, Ishikawa received an email. It was from Ichiro Masamura, the head of Kyodo News’ Chiba bureau, to which Ishikawa belongs.

“It seems that the head office wants to do a hearing again about the book.”

Why are they calling him again?  Ishikawa was in a two-hour hearing four days ago with Shuhei Masunaga, General Manager of the Legal Affairs Department, and Kentaro Shimizu, Planning Committee Member of the Human Resources Department, General Affairs Bureau. He was repeatedly asked the same question and politely responded each time. Ishikawa is on childcare leave. He is taking care of his 8-month-old child and cannot make the time to attend the company’s hearing so many times.

Ishikawa asked Masamura what they wanted to question again. The following reply was received from Masamura:

We would like to ask about the following three points:


The original news distribution on November 17, 2020, and the press conference in Nagasaki Prefecture on the 18th, in which you wrote that “the local media was silent” and that “an alibi-like article.”


In reference to the 900 public funds payments made to the Nagasaki Shimbun by Nagasaki Prefecture in 2021, you made a statement that readers could interpret as “Nagasaki Shimbun did not write about the original news distribution on November 17 because they are receiving a large amount of money” and “They’re reading the sponsor’s face.”


The exchange with a “veteran reporter” of the Nagasaki Shimbun at the Nagasaki governor’s press conference on December 25, 2020.


We asked about these three points in the prior hearing, but I would like to ask you to confirm the details again and ask for additional matters.

Nevertheless, as Masamura himself wrote, Ishikawa already answered these questions at the interview the other day. Ishikawa replied to Masamura as follows:

I understand what the headquarters wants to hear, but I feel I already answered those questions in the prior hearing.


I would like to know the company’s purpose and reason for requesting another hearing, what specific protests the Nagasaki Shimbun made, and what the company’s current response is.


I would appreciate it if you could clarify these. Sincerely.

And yet, the reply from Masamura was only the following line:

You could ask those questions in the hearing. Please let us know your availability on the 24th.

An arbitrary summon led to Ishikawa’s second hearing.

Kyodo News had already apologized

Ishikawa went to the Kyodo News Chiba bureau, the same as the previous hearing, at 11:00 a.m. on November 24, 2022, 10 days after the first hearing.

When he entered the room, there were two different staff members from the other time. They were Kazuhiro Yamauchi of the Legal Affairs Department and Masao Ishigame, Chief of the Legal and Intellectual Property Office.

They hurried through greetings to begin the hearing. At the outset, he was informed that the purpose of the hearing was not to determine whether the Nagasaki Shimbun had been defamed but to find out whether it violated Kyodo News’ regulations for outside activities. Ishikawa resisted.

“If you want to do this hearing because there is a risk of infringement, please tell me where exactly the risk is.”

Yet, Yamauchi and Ishigame couldn’t answer.

“We will judge after hearing from you.”

Why do they ask questions when they do not even know the part that violates the regulations? Ishikawa asked many times what the conflict was, but he was told, “Is it necessary to inform you beforehand?” and “What’s wrong with the previous explanation?” Ishikawa said:

“You are treating me like a suspect now, but for example, even the police have charges when they question.”

Yamauchi and Ishigame laughed and didn’t answer straight.

Ishikawa realized that Kyodo was determined to hold him accountable no matter what.

In fact, Ishikawa’s prediction was correct.

Prior to this second hearing, Kyodo News had already apologized to the Nagasaki Shimbun. The person who went to apologize was Makoto Taniguchi, then president of Kyodo News’ Fukuoka branch. Of course, without permission from Ishikawa.

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 30, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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