Kyodo News Breaks Its Own “Guidelines for Reporter Activities” (26)
2023.10.26 14:23 Nanami Nakagawa
Yoichi Ishikawa could only think that Kyodo News had lost its way.
The examination committee has used Ishikawa’s failure to interview the Nagasaki Shimbun’s views as a company in his book, ”The Sanctuary of Bullying” published by BungeiShunju as a trump card in pursuing responsibility.
However, if he had asked the Nagasaki Shimbun, a member company of Kyodo News, for its opinion, there was a risk of interference with the investigation. Shuhei Masunaga, head of Kyodo News’s Legal Affairs Department, also said in an interview with Ishikawa, “Whether or not we can do that, depending on the relationship between us and the Nagasaki Shimbun, is another matter.”
What Ishikawa wrote in his book was a commentary based on facts in the first place. If this were to be blamed, much of Kyodo News’ reporting would no longer hold true.
Ishikawa pointed out Kyodo’s self-contradiction in his written opinion.
“Major negative impact on the article distributed by Kyodo News”
In his written opinion, Ishikawa cited an editorial article distributed by Kyodo News and published by the Nagasaki Shimbun as an example.
The headline reads, “Editorial/Budget Expansion that Endangers the Country/Defense Tax Increase by 1 Trillion Yen.” It was distributed on December 9, 2022, and published in the Nagasaki Shimbun on the following day, the 10th.
The author wrote a number of criticisms (in bold) of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement of raising taxes as a source of funds for increased defense spending.
“It is unclear whether the necessary financial resources will be secured, and the fiscal deterioration could worsen further. I cannot help but say that this is an expansion of the budget that puts the country at risk.”
“However, the concrete contents have not yet been shown to the people, and the Prime Minister’s instructions cannot escape being criticized as “scale-based.”
“The prime minister, who has been suffering from low approval ratings due to issues such as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church), may be seen as leaning towards the conservative wing of the party in order to maintain centripetal force.”
“The government’s measures to generate financial resources appear to minimize the burden on the people. However, we must not overlook the fact that they are just a rough estimate.”
The article concludes with the author’s opinion.
“A historic shift in security policy and an increase in burdens are becoming an accomplished fact without any explanation. The question is whether we will tolerate this attitude of disregard for the people.”
Ishikawa doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with this article.
Nevertheless, in light of the examination committee’s claims, if the author did not directly interview Prime Minister Kishida, it cannot be said that he had “completed his research.” Like Ishikawa, the case must be heard and presented to an examination committee.
Moreover, similar articles are distributed by Kyodo News on a daily basis and published by member companies. This is causing a great deal of trouble not only to the Nagasaki Shimbun, which published an editorial article about the defense spending tax increase, but also to its member companies.
Ishikawa pointed this out in his written opinion.
If your committee insists that even if it is in the category of commentary based on objective or public facts, it must always interview the other party and publish their opinion, then that argument will also have a major negative impact on the article distributed by Kyodo News.
It is clear that the parts shown in red (bold for this article) are commentary by the author. In distributing this editorial article, did the author interview Prime Minister Fumio Kishida regarding the relevant sections? If the author had not interviewed Prime Minister Kishida, and if you apply the committee’s claims, this article would not be considered as it did “the best in the investigation” (from the “Notice” dated December 22, 2022). An article was distributed by Kyodo News, a news organization, due to expressions that do not comply with Kyodo News’s “Guidelines for Reporter Activities” (does not meet the company’s article standards and is suspected of violating the basic stance of a reporter), and there is a suspicion that the credibility of the reporter’s qualifications has been damaged (same as above). The same can be said of many other editorial articles, and Kyodo News is producing and publishing a large number of articles that do not meet its own standards, causing damage to its member companies. How does your committee explain this point?
It even denigrates the editorial articles distributed by Kyodo News and can be considered to be a self-inflicted foolish act.
“Value the perspectives of socially vulnerable people”?
Ishikawa notices another serious self-contradiction in Kyodo News.
Kyodo News is primarily concerned with its member company, the Nagasaki Shimbun, and not with the bereaved family.
Kyodo News’s “Guidelines for Reporter Activities” states the following as its basic stance:
“Value the perspectives of socially vulnerable people”
Hayato Fukuura’s family was forced into a situation where they had to confront not only Kaisei Gakuen High School but also the prefecture. Furthermore, the locally influential Nagasaki Shimbun provided cover for the prefecture and launched a follow-up attack. They are truly socially vulnerable.
Nonetheless, ever since Kyodo News received a protest from the Nagasaki Shimbun, it has consistently failed to face the bereaved family. Hayato’s family sent a letter to Kyodo News stating that Ishikawa’s report was all true. Yet, Ichiro Masamura, who received the letter, concealed the existence of the letter from Ishikawa. Not only that, but they even set up an examination committee the day after receiving the letter.
It is clear that the attitude of your committee is pandering to the powerful Nagasaki Shimbun newspaper from the perspective of the bereaved families, and is contrary to Kyodo News’s ”Guidelines for Reporter Activities,” which state to “value the perspectives of the socially vulnerable people.” From the viewpoint of the bereaved family, this is nothing but an act that destroys the dignity of the victims and their son.
Hayato Fukuura (bottom) and Hayato’s older brother (top). Hayato was 1 year old at the time (provided by his family)
To be continued.
(Originally published in Japanese on June 22, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)Adults in the Student Suicide Case: All articles