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Asahi Shinbun confused about meaning of ‘freedom of the press’

August 15th, 2006 . by Matt

Asahi Shinbun
Apparently journalists from this paper think that if you dont allow them in your house, you have violated ‘freedom of the press’

Asahi Shinbun, a Japanese newspaper, have had their journalists be temporarily banned from Yasukuni Shrine for violating the privacy of staff members. Bold text emphisis mine.

Yasukuni Shrine refused Asahi Shimbun reporters and photographers entry to its compound on Tuesday to cover the prime minister’s visit after the shrine claimed the newspaper had violated its privacy in a report.

The Asahi Shimbun plans to lodge a protest against the shrine. The newspaper claims the ban runs counter to the freedom of the press.

The Asahi Shimbun carried a story on Yasukuni Shrine’s real estate properties, showing them on a map in its Aug. 12 morning edition. The real estate properties shown in the story include shrine workers’ dormitories.

Officials at the shrine said that the story constituted a violation of shrine workers’ privacy, and told the newspaper that it would temporarily ban Asahi employees from entering its compound.

Lodge a protest? To who? Certainly complaining to Yasukini Shrine is a waste of time. Do they intend to sue? Since Yasukuni Shrine is not a public body, I dont see how their journalists being banned for any reason violates ‘freedom of the press’. Because the sentence was so vague, I consulted the Japanese version of the same article.


The Japanese version does not say lodge a protest, but ‘a plan to complain’, but again to who, I do not know.

Here is my guess – Yasukuni Shrine is well within its rights to prohibit journalists from Asahi Shinbun for the reason of protecting the privacy of its staff, or for any reason at all, no matter how arbitrary. Far from having freedom of the press violated, Asahi Shinbun is annoyed that the shrine is exercising its freedom of association. Tp put it simply, journalists do not have a right to enter any private organisation (or home, for that matter) that they want to. If there really were a case, then Asashi Shinbun would formally sue the shrine in court. However, since it does not stand a chance of winning, what it will do is whip up a campaign in its editorial pages about freedom of the press being trampled on by Yasukuni Shrine.

It is hard to believe a well known newspaper would be foolish enough to take this stance. I hope they suffer a backlash for it.

6 Responses to “Asahi Shinbun confused about meaning of ‘freedom of the press’”

  1. comment number 1 by: sqz

    However, Asahi Shimbun protects privacy of Korean criminals living in Japan.
    They do not have pride as a journalist.

  2. comment number 2 by: georgyporgy

    That’s the Asahi’s modus operandi.
    They mislead their readers to an idea that what they believe should not exist is harmful or does not exist at all.
    In a sense, the Asahi has been consistent all through.
    During WW2, they covered up what was happening at front lines. They even gave a new name 「転戦」 to a lost battle.
    In the 60s, they praised Mao Tsu-Tung and covered up the massacre of 20-30 millions of intellectuals exercised under the name of the Cultural Revolution. “Lin Piao is alive in Baijing” was reported by Chihiro Kato, who is now serving as the main commentator, sitting next to Ichiro Furutachi, at 報道ステーション.
    In the 70s, they sent Katsuichi Honda to China to jot down the “witnesses of Nanjing Massacre” (chosen, of course, by the Communist Party of People’s China) without collecting any warrant, which was later published as 『南京への道』.
    More recently, they claimed that those who had been kidnapped by North Korea, represented by Megumi Yokota, are an obstacle to normalization of the bilateral relation between Japan and North Korea (although they later made an excuse that they did not intend to).
    Yes, controversy really sells.

  3. comment number 3 by: Malaclypse

    That’s quite a bold assertion. If there became a precedent for this kind of thing, I imagine the paparazzi would have a field day.

  4. comment number 4 by: randomcow

    Matt! How dare you criticise anything Japanese!!! Please get back to bashing Korea as soon as possible.



  5. comment number 5 by: Rose

    Major misfortunes of Japan are China, Korea, and the anti-Japanese media.

    Korea might perish eventually – for lack of backbone in thoughts.
    China might perish eventually – for the power game they play.

    But the anti-Japanese media will not die out unless and until majority of people in Japan become aware of them and exterminate them.

  6. comment number 6 by: MikeRossTky

    Found your site couple days ago. Good articles. Asahi Shimbun is not my favorite. Seems to be a house built for those who are more equal than others….