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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 31 - June 6  > Abe’s control over media receives criticism from UN expert on free speech
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2017 May 31 - June 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe’s control over media receives criticism from UN expert on free speech

June 1, 2017
The UN Special Rapporteur on free speech has compiled a report sounding the alarm about the Abe government’ excessive pressure on the media, and pointed to the need for revising the Broadcast Law and the State Secrets Protection Law.

The report, which appeared on May 30 on the website of the UN Human Rights Council, was written by David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The UN-appointed independent expert visited Japan last year to investigate the issue of the freedom of speech.

Regarding the government control of the media, the report points out, “Under international standards, broadcast regulation should be conducted by an independent third-party actor”.

The UN document mentions Article 4 of the Broadcast Law which stipulates that broadcasters should be politically neutral. It cites the fact that Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi Sanae in February 2016 suggested that the government may suspend the license of a TV/radio station which the government deems is biased. The report calls for the elimination of the article.

The report by Kaye criticizes the 2013 State Secrets Protection Law for infringing on people’s right to freedom of opinion and expression, just as many Japanese citizens have been criticizing it since before its enactment. The UN report calls for an amendment to the law to better protect internal whistleblowers.

Regarding the issue of the wartime Japanese military’s “comfort women” system, the report argues that the government should refrain from intervening in the interpretation of historical facts and instead should help increase public awareness about Japan’s involvement in wartime crimes during WWII.

The UN experts will explain his report in a Human Rights Council meeting scheduled for June 12. On May 30, the Japanese government sent to the UN a document claiming that the rapporteur’s report is not based on objective information and should be revised.

Past related articles:
> Minister hints at possibility of ordering broadcasters to go off the air [February 10, 2016]
> Shii protests against forcible enactment of state secrets law [December 8, 2013]
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