Adults in the Student Suicide Case

“Demand” and “Accusation” From The Examination Committee That Lack An Offensive Approach (25)

2023.10.25 15:32 Nanami Nakagawa

Kyodo News clearly lacked an approach to pursue Ishikawa.

Yoichi Ishikawa, who criticized the Nagasaki Shimbun in his book ”The Sanctuary of Bullying,” was questioned in two hearings lasting over three hours in total. And yet, it does not go beyond the realm of “It is taboo for Kyodo News reporters to criticize member companies.”

Nevertheless, Kyodo News did not stop with two hearings and set up an examination committee. In order to hold Ishikawa accountable, they made certain “demand” and “accusation.”

Ishikawa responded by writing a written opinion to the examination committee.

Kyodo News’s “fraudulent behavior”

Their “demand” refers to the submission of interview notes and audio recording data to the examination committee.

Kyodo News repeatedly pressed Ishikawa to submit interview notes and recordings from the beginning of the hearing.

On November 17, 2022, Shuhei Masunaga, head of the Legal Department, sent an email requesting Ishikawa’s interview notes and recordings of the investigation. The reason was that it would be necessary to prove that Ishikawa’s book was based on fact in the event that the Nagasaki Shimbun filed a lawsuit for defamation.

However, Kyodo News is a third party with respect to the book “The Sanctuary of Bullying.” His publishing contract is with Bungeishunju. Even if the Nagasaki Shimbun sued, it would be either against Ishikawa or Bungeishunju. There is no way he can hand over the interview notes and recordings to a third party.

Kyodo News itself does realize that it is a third party. During the second hearing with Ishikawa, Masao Ishigame, Director of Legal and Intellectual Property Office indeed acknowledged that “Even if there is a lawsuit, the company is not eligible to be a party.”

Nevertheless, on December 14, the examination committee requested again that Ishikawa, who was preparing a written opinion, consider submitting interview notes and audio recordings.

In other words, it was a lie that they said they needed it for the trial.

Why do they go so far as to lie to obtain interview notes and audio recordings? All Ishikawa can think is that they are attempting to use this as a basis for finding flaws.

Ishikawa strongly criticized this point in his written opinion to the examination committee.

Despite being aware of this, it is a fraudulent act to request the submission of evidence materials because they are necessary for a lawsuit, and I cannot help but conclude that the company, which is an outsider, attempted to deceive me to acquire the materials. This behavior is unacceptable for a news organization, and I strongly condemn it.

Head of the Legal Affairs Department, “We can’t probably do that because of the relationship between us and the Nagasaki Shimbun.”

The “accusation” points to Ishikawa’s “failure to interview the Nagasaki Shimbun.”

On December 22, the examination committee sent a letter titled “Notice” to Ishikawa, mentioning the following:

Given the substance of Mr. Ishikawa’s book this time, it would have been necessary to interview the Nagasaki Shimbun in order to be able to state that you had done your best in the investigation. However, Mr. Ishikawa did not interview the Nagasaki Shimbun.

There is a factual error in the examination committee’s statement though that, “Mr. Ishikawa did not interview the Nagasaki Shimbun.”

Although Ishikawa did not write about it in his book, he has talked to a Nagasaki Shimbun reporter. After the prefectural governor’s press conference, he directly communicated with Koichi Doshita, who was protecting the prefecture and approaching Ishikawa.

If the examination committee is indicating that he did not interview Nagasaki Shimbun’s view as a company, then that is certainly true, and if he was able to do the interview, he should have done so.

Yet, due to the strong relationship between the Nagasaki Shimbun and Kyodo News, there is a chance that coverage will be hindered. In its hearing to Ishikawa, Kyodo News admitted this.

This happened during the first hearing on November 14. Regarding Ishikawa’s lack of direct interviews with the Nagasaki Shimbun, head of the Legal Affairs Department, Masunaga, said, “I think we have to listen to what the other side has to say, since we are criticizing them.”

“Well, we can’t probably do that because of the relationship between us and the Nagasaki Shimbun.”

Ishikawa wrote the following in his opinion letter.

As a reporter affiliated with Kyodo News, I determined that interviewing Nagasaki Shimbun, a member company, and its reporters would be problematic, thus I did not conduct interviews to write the book. Because I imagined that if I conduct a critical interview with a member company or its members, I may face intervention and pressure from individuals both inside and outside the company who expect the contents to be made public. Furthermore, the reaction of the Nagasaki Shimbun and the Kyodo News upon publication, as well as the formation of your committee, demonstrate paradoxically that these fears are not unwarranted.

Since he was unable to interview Nagasaki Shimbun’s views on the matter, he has limited his commentary to publicly available facts and unshakable facts obtained through investigation. Originally, he intended to interview the Nagasaki Shimbun and confirm the information he had obtained confidentially.

The book only includes commentary based on objective or public facts, such as newspaper articles, records in databases released by the prefecture, actual statements made in public, such as press conferences, and the results of investigation that are not included in the book. Thus, It is clear that my criticism remains within its legitimate scope.

Even so, Ishikawa thought as he wrote his opinion letter.

“I wonder if the examination committee doesn’t realize that Kyodo News is denying its role as a news organization.”

What will happen if the examination committee’s claim hits Kyodo News like a boomerang? Ishikawa continues to address this point.

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on June 21, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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