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National News

NHK denies it was under political pressure

Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) reiterated Jan. 19 that there was no political pressure on the public broadcaster to alter a documentary program about a mock trial on Japan's wartime sex slavery before it was aired in 2001.

Former senior NHK official Takeshi Matsuo told a news conference that he believes then deputy chief Cabinet secretary Shinzo Abe, currently acting secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), did not exert any political pressure, as alleged in an Asahi Shimbun newspaper report.

Matsuo, then executive director of NHK's broadcasting bureau who met with Abe before the program was aired, said, "(Asahi Shimbun) made a false report. It is extremely regrettable. We seek an apology."

The Asahi Shimbun reacted sharply to Matsuo's remarks, saying it will ask NHK to make an apology and a correction

The article at the center of the controversy alleges NHK altered the program in response to pressure from Abe and another LDP lawmaker, Shoichi Nakagawa, currently economy, trade and industry minister.

The program in question was broadcast in January 2001 after NHK edited out a scene in which the late Emperor Hirohito was found guilty in a mock trial of crimes against humanity.

The mock trial was organized in December 2000 by activists who accused the late emperor of allowing the Japanese military to force Asian women into sexual slavery for its soldiers.

Meanwhile, NHK chief producer, Satoru Nagai, who was involved in the production of the program, said he does not believe the results of an in-house probe that denied political pressures to alter the program.

Nagai had asked NHK's compliance panel in December to investigate the case, claiming the broadcaster violated the Broadcasting Law, which guarantees freedom of broadcasting.

Saying NHK cannot reveal the truth by itself, Nagai has called for a probe by a third party. (Kyodo)


Shukan ST: Jan. 28, 2005

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