Kyodo News Apologized To The Prefectural Government Press Club After The Governor’s Press Conference (22)
2023.10.04 15:07 Nanami Nakagawa
Kaisei Gakuen High School, which Hayato Fukuura attended, is a 131-year-old traditional school run by the Catholic Society of Mary. Every Christmas, the school is decorated with trees and illuminations.
However, despite the festive mood at Kaisei Gauen, Christmas 2020 turned out to be a frustrating day for Hayato’s mother, Saori, and father, Daisuke.
An opinion letter sent jointly by the two to Kyodo News describes what happened that day.
Nagasaki prefectural office (Photo by Nanami Nakagawa on April 19, 2023)
Governor: “The bereaved family needs to understand that we did not confirm it”
On December 25, 2020, a press conference was held at the Nagasaki Prefectural Office by the then-Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, Hodo Nakamura.
About a month earlier, on November 17th, Ishikawa brought the facts to light that Osamu Matsuo, who was a counselor of the Academic Affairs Division in the prefecture, confrimed to the idea that Kaisei Gakuen had proposed to the bereaved family that Hayato’s suicide would be a “sudden death.” The next day, the 18th, the prefectural General Affairs Department held an emergency press conference. They admitted that the confirmation was inappropriate and apologized to the bereaved family.
Nevertheless, Governor Nakamura, who serves as the head of the prefecture, had not publicly expressed his opinion on this matter. Ishikawa asked:
“It has been revealed that Osamu Matsuo, who was in charge of the affair on the prefectural government side at the time, and the current principal of Nishisonogi High School confirmed the school’s proposal to cover up a suicide. In response to this statement, the bereaved family claims that the prefecture was complicit in covering up the suicide due to bullying, but first of all, how does the governor perceive this statement, and what do you say to the bereaved family?”
Nakamura gives a surprising answer to this:
“I am not aware of the details of the exchange, but I understand that Matsuo did not confirm it.”
The Prefectural General Affairs Department had already apologized to Saori and Daisuke on November 18 for the “confirmed statement.” This was the day after Ishikawa reported on Kyodo News. Governor Nakamura reversed the prefecture’s view, saying, “This does not mean we have confirmed the proposal.”
“I think we need to thoroughly explain that so that the bereaved family understands our true intentions.”
In a written opinion to Kyodo News, Saori reveals her distrust of the prefecture.
At the time of the governor’s press conference, we had already met with the director of general affairs and received an apology for the inappropriate comments made by the prefectural staff. Although the General Affairs Director has apologized to the bereaved family, the governor says in public that he has not confirmed it, so the bereaved family needs to understand that. We could not understand this situation at all. Not only did we not understand, we even began to suspect that the general affairs manager’s apology was just a sham.
Governor Nakamura’s statement reminded Saori and Daisuke of something they’d heard before. This is a November 19th piece written by Koichi Doshita, a Nagasaki Shimbun reporter. The article included the prefecture’s explanation, “We do not believe that we actively confirmed the ‘sudden death.” After the article was published, Doshita called Daisuke and stated, “The prefecture is not at fault.”
How could he say it wasn’t a confirmation without knowing the specifics? We couldn’t help but think that the governor was only stating the opinion of the Nagasaki Shimbun newspaper at the time.
Mother’s note that the Nagasaki Shimbun did not report
The Nagasaki Shimbun standing on the side of the prefecture rather than the bereaved family has continued since then.
Saori released a private note on January 19, 2021, a year after the governor’s press conference. The day was Hayato’s birthday, and if he were still alive, he would have turned 20. She wrote this with the hope that “no other children would suffer like my son did.”
Saori entrusted Ishikawa with the note, and he published it through Kyodo News, which distributed it to at least 14 newspapers across Japan, including the Tokyo Shimbun, Hokkaido Shimbun, and Okinawa Times.
However, the Nagasaki Shimbun, despite being a local newspaper, did not publish it.
In January 2021, when our child would have turned 20 years old if he were still alive, we published a note on Kyodo News, but unfortunately, none of the news outlets in the prefecture covered it.
It has now been nearly a year. Saori and Daisuke discovered a crucial piece that led them to believe that the Nagasaki Shimbun and the prefecture were in collusion. Doshita stated in his column, “Thanks from the bottom of my heart.”
One day, something happened that made us feel that the Nagasaki Shimbun was definitely defending my prefecture.
This is Doshita’s column, published in the Nagasaki Shimbun on March 1, 2022. The content referred to the fact that the incumbent prefectural governor lost the election. He seemed to be on good terms with the governor, and in his own words, “The news media played an important role in monitoring the government, but seeing him seriously try to implement measures made me want to support him.”
We thought the press was on the side of the oppressed, but when we read this column, we were astounded beyond words. The Nagasaki Shimbun Company has decided to support the government rather than monitor it.
Response from the Prefectural Public Relations Division Press Planning Team
This is what the bereaved family would like to convey in their opinion to Kyodo News.
It is true that the Nagasaki Shimbun and the prefecture are at odds with each other, and it is absurd for Kyodo News to blame Ishikawa, who criticized this in his book.
There are other important facts that are not mentioned in the opinion letter.
Even before Ishikawa’s book was published, Kyodo News had followed the lead of the Nagasaki Shimbun, which was aligned with the prefecture.
On May 25, 2023, I interviewed the Prefectural Academic Affairs Promotion Division with Tansa Editor-in-Chief Makoto Watanabe. I inquired about the minutes of the press conference held on December 25, 2020, during which Ishikawa posed questions to Governor Nakamura. This is because Matsuo, who was a counselor in the Academic Affairs Division, was not found in the minutes. Normally, there is no reason to anonymize a prefectural executive who also served as a counselor.
At the press conference, Ishikawa asked a question, mentioning Matsuo’s name. After the press conference, General Affairs Manager Ota got upset about this, and Doshita of the Nagasaki Shimbun weighed in, saying, ”It’s going to be a problem at the press club.”
What exactly happened regarding the press conference? We didn’t get any answers during the interview with the Academic Affairs Promotion Division on that day, but the Public Relations Division’s press planning team later responded.
|December 25, 2020||Governor’s Regular Press Conference|
|Discussion between the prefecture and Kyodo News|
|January 5, 2021||Discussion between the prefecture and Kyodo News|
|January 7, 2021||Kyodo News apologies to Nagasaki Prefectural Press Club member companies|
To be continued.
(Originally published in Japanese on June 16, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)Adults in the Student Suicide Case: All articles