15 Questions the Examination Committee Has Avoided Answering (27)
2023.11.02 10:37 Nanami Nakagawa
Yoichi Ishikawa of Kyodo News published “The Sanctuary of Bullying” from Bungeishunju on November 10, 2022. The next day, Kyodo News began pursuing Ishikawa’s responsibility.
November 10, Bungeishunju publishes “The Sanctuary of Bullying”
November 11, Chiba bureau chief Ichiro Masamura urgently contacts Ishikawa.
November 14, 1st hearing (Legal Affairs Department, Shuhei Masunaga, General Affairs Bureau, Human Resources Department, Planning Committee, Kentaro Shimizu)
November 24, 2nd hearing (Legal Affairs Department, Kazuhiro Yamauchi, Legal and Intellectual Property Office Manager, Masao Ishigame)
December 5, Masamura receives a letter from the bereaved family.
December 6, Kyodo News establishes an examination committee
December 20, Ishikawa submits a provisional written opinion to the examination committee
January 10, Ishikawa and his family submit a written opinion to the examination committee
The thoughts of the bereaved family, who were fighting against the school and government to “prevent what happened to their son from happening again,” supported Ishikawa during those times. And his determination to protect freedom of the press. That’s why he decided to face the examination committee.
However, there was something that Ishikawa couldn’t agree with. Even when Ishikawa sent questions to the examination committee, they did not respond properly. In this case, Ishikawa would have to state his opinion without knowing the committee’s intention. It is one-sided and lacks fairness.
In the written opinion sent on January 10, he asked them again to respond to 15 questions.
“If your committee is serious about clarifying the facts”
In his written opinion, Ishikawa emphasized the necessity to answer the questions.
If your committee is serious about clarifying the facts, it is only logical that you would try to get me to write an opinion with more substantial content, thus it is obvious that you must actively disclose information or at least answer my questions properly.
The 15 questions are listed below.
1) In the document from the committee dated December 14, please provide a concrete and detailed explanation of why you forced me to attend the examination committee and submit a written opinion by the 20th of the same month.
2) Regarding 1), although the committee claims that “the examination cannot be unnecessarily prolonged” and ”the examination cannot waste time unnecessarily,” it seems that the committee is rushing the conclusion. Please be specific and detailed about why that is.
3) Masao Ishigame, the committee’s chairman, continuously interferes with childcare leave and harasses me through his persistent communication, ignoring the designation of a representative, and forcing me to respond within the deadline set by the committee. Please answer whether or not you understand this correctly. Also, please let me know why you are continuing to interfere with childcare leave and engage in harassment, which are illegal acts.
4) It has been more than a month since the book was released, but so far I have not received any opinions or comments saying that “trust in the Kyodo News distributed articles and the quality of the reporters has been damaged” or similar comments. The same applies to the committee’s claims that the content of Chapter 11 lacks corroborative research and goes beyond the scope of legitimate commentary. Please tell me in detail, including proper nouns, what kind of people are having the doubts you have raised. Please also disclose the specific points raised by those people.
5) The committee claims that the content of Chapter 11 is suspected because it “has not been sufficiently corroborated and that there is a logical gap beyond the scope of the criticism, according to Kyodo News’s ‘Employment Regulations,’ ‘Regulations on Outside Activities,’ and “Guidelines for Reporter Activities.” Please provide specific and detailed explanations of which provisions of the rules, regulations, and guidelines the statements you have pointed out do not comply with.
6) The committee claims that the content of Chapter 11 “has not been sufficiently corroborated and that there is a logical gap beyond the scope of the criticism.” Please indicate specific and detailed information on the grounds, reasons, and evidence for your judgment.
7) Despite the committee’s stated purpose being to investigate the facts, why has it not questioned or interviewed the publisher, Bungeishunju, and the editor in charge? Please explain the reason specifically and in detail.
8) The committee concludes that “a serious problem has arisen at the company” and asserts that “there is a suspicion that the credibility of the articles distributed by Kyodo News, a news agency, and the quality of the reporter have been damaged.” Why hasn’t there been any protest against the publisher, Bungeishunju? Please explain the reason specifically and in detail.
9) Bungeishunju published articles introducing my books multiple times in various media, such as “Bunshun Weekly” and “Bunshun Online.” If what the committee claims is true, these articles are also causing damage to Kyodo News, but why have you never protested or requested deletion or correction? Please explain the reason specifically and in detail.
10) Regarding 7) to 9), do you have any intention of taking any of the above actions against Bungeishunju regarding the book and related articles in the future? If there is, please indicate the timing and specific details, and if not, please indicate the reason in specific and detail.
11) The company has changed its arguments several times up until the establishment of the committee. Initially, the explanation was that “the Nagasaki Shimbun said that the content of the book was defamatory and would request Kyodo News to take recovery measures.” The committee suggested that a lawsuit might be filed, but when I pointed out that “Kyodo News is not eligible to be a party,” the next response was “because there is a suspicion of violating regulations regarding outside activities, we have to consider whether to revoke permission to write and to request recovery measures.” The examination committee then explained that “a business problem had arisen at the company,” and that there was a suspicion of violation of the “Employment Regulations,” “Regulations on Outside Activities,” and “Guidelines for Reporter Activities.” Please explain specifically and in detail why your argument changed, and the reasons and circumstances behind it.
12) It’s obvious to anyone that the Nagasaki Shimbun’s protest to Kyodo News about the book’s defamation is none of Kyodo News’s business because it is not involved in the publication. Why didn’t Kyodo News respond when it received the protest by saying, “We should protest against Bungeishunju?” Please explain the reason specifically and in detail.
13) Regarding 12), Nagasaki Shimbun has not made any direct protest to the publisher, Bungeishunju, despite claiming to an unrelated Kyodo News that it is “defamation.” Please explain in specific detail how the committee views this issue.
14) If the events that happened since the publication of the book were to be made public, how do you think the words and actions of the company and the committee would be perceived or evaluated by the public? It might be viewed as “Kyodo News pandering to the wishes of its member companies (or succumbing to pressure) and attempting to silence speech.” Please let me know the committee’s view.
15) In relation to 14), in order to avoid suspicion among the public that “Kyodo News attempted to silence speech,” all the background and progress of discussions regarding this matter, including the exchange between the Nagasaki Shimbun and Kyodo News, must be made public. Do you have any such plans? If so, please indicate the specific timing and details of the announcement, and if not, please provide a specific and detailed reason.
“This case questions the nature of journalism itself”
As indicated in question 14, Ishikawa feels that Kyodo News’ actions pose a risk of suppressing speech.
At the end of his 21-page, over 23,000-character written opinion, Ishikawa wrote:
As it is clear from reading this written opinion, the committee’s claims have no validity and are nothing more than mere pretense. Furthermore, there are many contradictions and incomprehensible points in the words and actions of the company and the committee, and if the entire story became public, the public would unavoidably criticize that “Kyodo News, which is supposed to be a news organization, was trying to silence speech.”
I recognize that this case questions not only Kyodo News, but also the nature of journalism itself.
How will the examination committee answer Ishikawa’s questions and conclude the examination?
Questions submitted by Yoichi Ishikawa to the Kyodo News examination committee
To be continued.
(Originally published in Japanese on June 23, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)Adults in the Student Suicide Case: All articles