Fountain Ink
Image Credit: Fountain Ink
Image Credit: Fountain Ink

In part because of the local customs of reporters and sources having long, booze-soaked meetings, the kisha club reporters often develop close relationships with their sources. The right wing of government of Shinzo Abe has had a chilling effect on the media. Fears of losing jobs has ensured that no one is asking the tough questions.

Hiroko kuniya was one of Japanese journalism’s brightest stars. As the host of Close-up gendai, a current affairs programme on national tV channel NHK, she had established herself as a reliable voice of incisive news and analysis. She was feted for her sharp understanding of world news, formed in part by her experience studying in the united States.

Gendai has been a rare example of genuine public service journalism in Japan, a country where cosy relations between reporters and prominent business and government figures result in a lack of critical reporting.

Kuniya’s time at the top of the Japanese media world came crashing down when she did what every interviewer should do: ask tough questions about issues that matter. In a live interview in July 2014 with Chief Cabinet Secretary yoshihide Suga, kuniya calmly persisted on an issue that is important to many Japanese: the cabinet’s decision to reinterpret the constitution to allow collective self defence rights, which means Japanese troops can be mobilised even if Japan wasn't attacked directly. Japan’s pacifist constitution is a source of pride for many Japanese who see it as a hedge against a repeat of the horrors of World War II, and the current government’s effort to change it without a referendum has been controversial.

After the interview, the prime minister’s office reportedly complained to NHK about the tone of the interview. In April, she l


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