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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 15 - 21  > Major media losing critical perspective after repeated wining and dining with Abe
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2017 March 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Major media losing critical perspective after repeated wining and dining with Abe

March 16, 2017
Akahata ‘current’ column

Tokyo’s Akasaka is an area where many exclusive restaurants for business use are located. One such restaurant is Akasaka Hanten, famous for Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s favorite Chinese cuisine.

He, as usual, had dinner with editors in chief of major newspapers and TV stations in late February. Around that time, he was facing the opposition parties’ tough questioning over the allegation of a dubious sale of state land at a cut rate price to a private school corporation, Moritomo Gakuen. This wining and dining of media editors in chief aroused suspicion that Abe was attempting to propitiate the mainstream media with luxurious dining experiences.

He always wines and dines with influential people in the media industry at crucial moments of contestation in the Diet. In January last year, he expressed his eagerness to revise the Constitution. In June, his “Abenomics” economic policy ended up in failure with the postponement of a sales tax hike. Any tension that existed between the Prime Minister and influential journalists collapsed due to the generous entertainment and dining opportunities offered by Abe. The mainstream media gradually lost their critical perspective when reporting on the government. The power of the state, by taking such a cunning approach, “interferes” with the need for objectivity in journalism and mass communications.

Among news commentators on TV, some accept Abe’s “warm and generous hospitality” at exclusive restaurants. These well-known figures make some comments on politics in general but never question the actions of state authorities.

For example, in regard to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, they question only the responsibility of Kagoike Yasunori, chairman of the school corporation in question, but defend Abe and his wife, Akie, as if the couple was unknowingly deceived. A reporter of The New York Times published a book titled, “The Japanese media prostrating themselves before the Abe government”.

On the other hand, a few news magazine programs on TV cast a critical eye at media persons dining with Abe. A citizen-based journalist filmed Abe enjoying dinner in Akasaka with media stars and aired the footage on the Internet in protest. The excuse that dinner meetings between the Prime Minister and major media people are just an “opportunity to collect information” can no longer be accepted as legitimate.

Past related articles:
> JCP Yamashita demands summoning of witnesses over state land acquisition scandal [March 6, 2017]
> Teaching children 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education is inappropriate: education minister [February 24, 2017]
> Far-right wing school corporation collects donations under name of ‘Abe Shinzo’ [February 17, 2017]
> Abe’s wife-associated school corporation gets national land at exceptionally low price [February 11, 2017]
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