To the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: October 2003

The Editor's page

by Eiji Sakamoto

Dear Mr. Kelts,

I was pleased to see the article on the Japanese press in the September edition of J@pan Inc (Japan's Free Press Faces Punishment) because this is an issue that has not been picked up at all by the Japanese newspapers. As a freelance writer who works for several of the major weekly and monthly Japanese magazines, I have watched with dismay as politicians and bureaucrats have sought to protect themselves via the new law. Of course, the major newspapers have used their political influence to exempt themselves and their journalists from the law -- a weapon we do not really have because our style of journalism has left us with few friends in the Diet or Kasumigaseki.

But the truth is that it doesn't really matter to the newspapers anyway. The politicians who made this law know that they are never properly challenged by the big newspapers. Even the Asahi Shimbun stops short of exposing scandal with the same vigor as the magazines.

I hope that you are wrong when you say that the new law will negatively affect the magazine business, and I suspect that you may have exaggerated the risk that the weeklies will now be neutered. The magazines have survived a number of historical attempts to curb our activities -- efforts that are always motivated by the very things that we hope to uncover: fear of exposure, cover-ups and a desire to keep the Japanese public in the dark.


Eiji Sakamoto

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