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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3  > Broadcast workers fight back against pressure from Abe gov’t
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2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3 [LABOR]

Broadcast workers fight back against pressure from Abe gov’t

December 21, 2016
Within the past month, the ruling coalition forced through the Diet bills to approve the TPP free trade pact, reduce pension benefits, and legalize casino gambling. Opinion polls show that these bills were all unpopular among the general public. However, the Abe Cabinet’s approval rate remains stable. This is most likely because of its hard-line media strategy.

TV networks’ coverage on the Japan-Russia Summit meeting is one example. After the two-day meeting ended on December 16, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo made live appearances on many news shows. He stressed that the two leaders had agreed to strengthen economic cooperation, while saying nothing about the fact that he failed to make any progress on the Japan-Russia territorial issue. These TV programs contributed to giving viewers the impression that the summit meeting was successful. In addition, TV stations took a pro-government stance while reporting on the meeting.

Earlier this year, viewers witnessed a clear sign of government interference in media. Three news programs on different TV networks replaced their anchorpersons who were known to be critical of the Abe government at the end of March.

One of the three, Furutachi Ichiro, was the anchor of “Hodo Station” on the TV Asahi Network. This news show won the 2016 Galaxy Award for its featured story on the Weimar Constitution. At the awards ceremony held by the Association of Broadcast Critics, the staff members of the program said, “It seems that many reporters feel an oppressive workplace atmosphere.”

The Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers’ Unions (Minpo-roren) in its annual convention in July adopted a resolution and expressed its determination to work to defend broadcast freedom without fearing pressure by the authorities. Broadcast workers are aware of the social role of journalism and so many of them are now determined to reject state interference.
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