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Home > Media Reiews > Other Review Last Updated: 14:56 03/09/2007
Other Review #33: April 12, 2004

Japan Media Review Update: April 12, 2004

JMR Staff (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California)

The following reviews are posted at:

Japanese Journalists Kidnapped in Iraq
From the Financial Times: Three Japanese citizens -- two journalists and an aid worker -- were taken hostage in Iraq by a militant group seeking Japanese troops' withdrawal from the country. The pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera broadcast a videotape released by the group and reported that the kidnappers have threatened to burn the hostages alive within three days if Japan's Self-Defense Forces fail to leave Iraq. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi demanded the release of the hostages and the chief cabinet secretary said the government saw no reason to give in and remove troops. In a related report by Kyodo News, the hostages are Soichiro Koriyama, 32, a freelance photojournalist from Tokyo working for the Weekly Asahi; Nahoko Takato, 34, an aid worker from Hokkaido, and Noriaki Imai, 18, a freelance writer from Sapporo. (Imai was interviewed by Japan Media Review last September.) Al Jazeera said the three appeared to have been captured Tuesday or Wednesday.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Defense Agency Apologizes to Reporters for Fake News Conference
From The Asahi Shimbun: The Defense Agency concealed plans for a general's visit to Iraq by scheduling a news conference during his trip. An hour before the regular weekly conference would have started, the press club reporters who had gathered at the agency were told that the conference was being canceled because of Gen. Hajime Massaki's absence. The reporters later found out that Massaki was secretly visiting Japanese troops in Iraq. When journalists complained that such false information would affect the trust between the media and the agency, the agency apologized to the furious press club. According to an article in The Japan Times, Defense Agency Chief Shigeru Ishiba admitted that the agency should not have misled reporters but said that it was considered an important safety measure.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

Mainichi Online Site Merges With MSN
From Mainichi Daily News: Mainichi Interactive, the online news site of the Mainichi newspapers, and MSN News, Microsoft Japan's online site, launched a new joint Web site April 5. According to an earlier article from Mainichi, after months of debating what order the companies' names would appear in, they settled on MSN-Mainichi Interactive. It is described as a Japanese-language combination of MSNBC and ESPN. Mainichi provides extensive news and editorial coverage while MSN contributes its Web technologies, a large readership, and sales systems for online advertising. The content is not yet available for mobile communications devices.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

Controversial Government Web Site Reviewed, But Not Eliminated
From The Asahi Shimbun: Japan's Immigration Bureau said it will revise but not abandon its Web site for reporting suspected illegal aliens, despite charges of racism. This online service allows citizens to report suspected illegal residents' names, nationalities and locations, which provoked cries of racial discrimination from humanitarian organizations. In response, the bureau eliminated a controversial menu that suggested ways for informants to describe their motives for reporting people -- motives such as an illegal immigrant is being a nuisance or causing anxiety -- and replaced it with a blank field that allows a description of up to 300 words. As another concession, the bureau added a statement to the site stating that "no aspersions of foreign residents who are staying legally should be submitted." (See also Week in Review 03.19.04)
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Zhen Wang

Commentary: Time to Lift the Ban on Internet Campaigning in Japan
According to a Daily Yomiuri editorial, an upcoming election has reignited the debate over legalizing Web-based campaigning. According to a 1996 interpretation of the 1950's Public Offices Election Law, Internet electioneering is forbidden. Failed attempts to revise the law in 1998 and again in 2001 faced claims that the use of the Internet in elections would lead to devastating slander. However, given the government's 2001 "e-Japan strategy" to make Japan the most wired nation in the world, the soaring number of Internet users, and voters' desire for information on party manifestos during the campaign, a reform to permit Internet campaigning is becoming urgent, said the editorial. (See also Week in Review 10.10.03)
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Zhen Wang

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