Adults in the Student Suicide Case

Nagasaki Shimbun’s Internal Documents Obtained / Kyodo News Apologized The Day After The Book’s Release Without Hearing The Author

2024.01.18 14:50 Nanami Nakagawa

In April 2017, Hayato Fukuura, a second-year student at Kaisei Gakuen High School, a private school in Nagasaki City, committed suicide due to bullying.

Yoichi Ishikawa, who was a reporter for Kyodo News, published “The Sanctuary of Bullying: A Complete Record of Parents Who Challenged the Darkness of Catholic School” from Bungeishunju in November 2022. He criticized the reporting attitude of the Nagasaki Shimbun, which protected the local government for blocking the investigation of the truth behind Hayato’s suicide.

However, Kyodo News has begun to pursue Ishikawa’s liability. The company dismissed the bereaved family members who insisted on the accuracy of the book’s content and revoked Isikawa’s permission to write outside the company. Furthermore, they prohibited the reprinting of the book and removed Ishikawa from his job as a reporter.

Why does Kyodo News side with the Nagasaki Shimbun rather than the bereaved family or its own reporters?

Tansa obtained internal documents from the Nagasaki Shimbun that reveal the reason for this.

These are the minutes of the “directors’ meeting,” attended by President Hidehiko Tokunaga and other executives, including the Director General.

(Left) Nagasaki Shimbun President Hidehiko Tokunaga from the Nagasaki Shimbun official website, Kyodo News General Incorporated Association President Toru Mizutani from Kyodo News’website

Nagasaki Shimbun: “The content is insulting and degrading to the Nagasaki Shimbun. It feels malicious. ”

Tansa obtained the minutes of the directors’ meeting held by the Nagasaki Shimbun from November 2022 to January 2023.

At the directors’ meeting held on November 14, 2022, “Sanctuary of Bullying” was brought up for the first time. This was five days after Bungeishunju released the book on November 9th. (The publication date is November 10, 2022.)

The minutes of the meeting include the following:

Makoto Taniguchi, manager of Kyodo News Fukuoka branch, paid a visit to the Nagasaki Shimbun headquarters on the afternoon of the 10th, the day after the book was released. In addition to Editor-in-Chief Kenji Ishida, News Headquarters Director Takaki Yamada and News Director Mukai from Nagasaki Shimbun were there.

Kyodo News’ Taniguchi apologized, saying that Chapter 11 of the book contained a section that hurt the reputation of Nagasaki Shimbun and its reporters. He listed several points that Kyodo News considers to be problematic, stating, “The problematic description is Mr. Ishikawa’s personal assertion, and it does not align with Kyodo’s belief,” and “The Head Office’s General Affairs Bureau and Legal Affairs Bureau are considering responses.”

The Nagasaki Shimbun questioned Kyodo News, ”why they gave permission to publish the book” and “will they ask Bungeishunju to suspend its publication.” They also requested that any application forms for reporter Ishikawa to write outside the company be submitted.

The Nagasaki Shimbun’s view is that, “The content is insulting and degrading to the Nagasaki Shimbun and is contrary to the facts. It feels malicious. Kyodo News must take appropriate action.”

On November 10, when Kyodo News’ Taniguchi went to the Nagasaki Shimbun to apologize, Kyodo News had not conducted a hearing on Ishikawa, the author of the book. It was on the afternoon of November 11 that Ishikawa was contacted by Ichiro Masamura, the head of his own department, the Chiba bureau chief, about his book. It was three days later, on November 14, that he was first interviewed by Shuhei Masunaga, General Manager of the Legal Affairs Department, and Kentaro Shimizu, Planning Committee Member of the Human Resources Department, General Affairs Bureau.

That is to say, Kyodo News apologized to the Nagasaki Shimbun first without asking Ishikawa what happened.

Nagasaki Shimbun President Tokunaga directly responds

On November 21, a summary of the progress, issues, and responses that Kyodo News gave to the Nagasaki Shimbun was shared at the directors’ meeting. The Nagasaki Shimbun decided to seek legal advice.

At the December 19 directors’ meeting, President Tokunaga gave a report. Tokunaga himself was in discussions with Kyodo News.

Before the Kyodo News board of directors’ meeting held last week, I received an explanation about the book from Kyodo News’ managing director and general affairs director.

According to Kyodo News, they held two hearings with reporter Ishikawa in November and established an examination committee on December 6. The committee’s conclusion will be reached by the end of the year, and the board of directors will make a decision. Reporter Ishikawa is looking for a chance to express his opinion.

When asked, “If the writing is for non-work purposes, does Kyodo News not have any responsibility?”, and the response was, “We, as Kyodo, feel responsible.”

When Tokunaga pointed out some facts to Kyodo News, they did not fully comprehend them. The Nagasaki Shimbun has decided to issue another opinion. We will ask the editor-in-chief to prepare the Nagasaki Shimbun’s opinions and remarks.

Yamada, who had been promoted to editor-in-chief, gave a report at the directors’ meeting on January 10, 2023, at the beginning of the new year. He told them he was going to Tokyo the next day, the 11th, and would get an explanation from Takehiko Egashira, the head of the Kyodo News and General Affairs Bureau.

On January 16, Yamada gave a report at the directors’ meeting. Yamada shared that he received an explanation from Egashira, head of the General Affairs Bureau, and Kyodo News Tokyo branch manager Ryuichi Matsui on January 11.

Kyodo News ignores the bereaved family

Kyodo News was in close contact with the Nagasaki Shimbun.

Meanwhile, Hayato’s family was also desperately trying to get the attention of Kyodo News. They sent a letter to Masamura, the Chiba bureau chief and the boss of Ishikawa, and submitted a written opinion to the examination committee. It’s not just the bereaved families. Dai Sasaki, who runs a cram school in Nagasaki City, also submitted a written opinion to the examination committee, appealing to the legitimacy of Ishikawa’s book.

However, on January 27, Kyodo News sent Ishikawa a “notice of revocation of consent for outside activities (external writing)” in the name of Egashira, the General Affairs Bureau’s head. Despite the fact that the publisher was Bungeishunju, reprints of the book were restricted. They also threatened Ishikawa with disciplinary action if this incident was made public in the media.

Afterwards, Egashira, head of the General Affairs Bureau, and Matsui, head of the Tokyo branch, told Ishikawa that he would be removed from his position as a reporter.

Ishikawa resigned and chose to continue working as a reporter for another media outlet.

Predetermined race

According to the minutes of the Nagasaki Shimbun directors’ meeting, Kyodo News proceeded with a series of crackdowns on Ishikawa with conclusions in mind from the beginning.

Tansa sent questions to Toru Mizutani, president of Kyodo News, and Tokunaga, president of Nagasaki Shimbun.

We asked Kyodo News whether its actions, for which it had already apologized before hearing Ishikawa, were appropriate, and why.

Kyodo News said, “We will refrain from responding.”

There was no response from the Nagasaki Shimbun.

Letter of inquiry addressed to Toru Mizutani, president of Kyodo News, and Hidehiko Tokunaga, president of Nagasaki Shimbun.

Kyodo News introduced “censorship”

In response to Tansa’s inquiry, Kyodo News has kept mute, although President Mizutani stated the following in a “Message from the President” posted on the company’s website.

The organization’s open culture is its greatest asset. This is due to the fact that free and open discussion leads to the creation of high-quality material. We value diversity and strive to create an environment where everyone may work comfortably and to the best of their abilities.

That’s a lie.

During my investigation, all the reporters of Kyodo News that I met lamented the lack of “open culture.”

There is also no explanation regarding the incident surrounding Ishikawa’s book.

Moreover, after a series of crackdowns on Ishikawa, Kyodo News decided to revise its “Regulations Regarding Outside Speech Activities” and strengthen monitoring of reporters. Tansa acquired an internal Kyodo News document dated June 23, 2023. Following the day’s general meeting of employees, the document was shared to employees in the name of Egashira, the head of the General Affairs Bureau.

The rules governing publications and lectures have also been updated as part of the “Regulations Concerning External Speech Activities.” We will tighten the rules and alter “company’s understanding” to “company’s permission” when employees submit applications. If necessary, we will draft a new clause that allows the company to request the submission of descriptions of their activities, such as book manuscripts.

This is an act that leads to censorship and is an act of self-destruction for a news organization that advocates freedom of speech. What exactly is the “free and open discussion” that Mizutani advocates?

First oral pleading on November 24

On July 24, 2023, Ishikawa filed a lawsuit against Kyodo News seeking damages. Mr. Ishikawa is seeking 5.5 million yen in damages for infringement of the following three rights:

・Violation of “sense of honor,” in which the qualifications as a reporter were denied

・Violation of “property rights” due to prohibition of reprinting

・Violation of “freedom of the press” guaranteed by “freedom of expression” stipulated in Article 21 of the Constitution


(Originally published in Japanese on November 22, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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