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Journalists barred from anti-nuclear protest coverage

Journalists barred from anti-nuclear protest coverage

Published on Tuesday 6 November 2012. Updated on Monday 12 November 2012.
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Reporters Without Borders declares its support for a legal demand to the Tokyo regional court by three freelance journalists seeking access to an official press club building that would allow them to cover anti-nuclear demonstration.

Yu Terasawa, Michiyoshi Hatakeyama and Yuichi Sato filed their demand on 31 October. They have been trying since June to enter the building of the Kisha club of the National Diet (parliament). The building offers the perfect vantage point for coverage of anti-nuclear demonstrations held every Friday in front of the prime minister’s residence, directly across the street. Club director Toshiyuki Saga has prohibited the freelancers from entering.

“This obstruction of freelancers’ work is arbitrary and illegal under Japanese law and violates the fundamental principle of freedom of the press,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The court will not provide legal cover for obstruction of access, especially given that the request for legal action comes from journalists themselves.”

Freelance journalists play an essential role in ensuring diversity in news coverage, the press freedom organization noted, calling that diversity essential to a democracy. The Kisha clubs not only embody a system of unfair privileges but systematically display contempt for an entire part of the media community, the organization said.

The three journalists who went to court belong to a freelancers’ liaison group created in October of last year to fight for freelancers’ access to press conferences held by the government and TEPCO, the electric utility. The freelancers have tried to film the weekly anti-nuclear demonstrations.

Before making their legal move, the journalists wrote on three occasions to club director Saga, a former journalist with Kyodo News. The letters, dated 17 July, 16 August and 10 October, have gone unanswered.

But Saga, in a video released on YouTube on 13 October, expressed hostility to the freelancers who had come to cover the protests.

On 2 November, Saga refused to answer questions from a Reporters Without Borders correspondent.

Freelance journalists are routinely discriminated against in Japan. Officials typically attempt to justify this policy on a variety of grounds: lack of space, lack of time, extra cost. Notably, these constraints apply only to freelancers – not to journalists employed by media companies.

Nuclear policy remains an extremely sensitive issue in Japan. Freelance journalist Minoru Tanaka has suffered systematic legal harassment since last May. He has been accused of libel as a result of his investigation of the disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.

Reporters Without Borders has opposed for years the censorship exercised by the Kisha clubs and the danger to press freedom that they represent.





「フリーランスの取材活動を妨害する行為は、勝手な独断に基づくものである。日本国憲法の下では、同妨害行為は違法であり、報道の自由の原則を侵害する行為だ」と、『国境なき記者団』は抗議する。 「ことに法的処分の要求がジャーナリスト本人から提出されたものであることを考慮し、(東京地裁の)法廷は入館の妨害を法的に擁護するような態度をとるべきではない」



仮処分命令申し立てという法的手段に訴える前に、3人のフリーランスは、元共同通信・記者の佐賀同会館事務局長らに対して、3回、正式に入館許可を要請する手紙を送付している。7月17日、8月10日、10月10日付けの手紙には質問を記入したが、どれも返答はない。佐賀同会館事務局長は、10月13日に公開されたYou Tubeの動画上で、権利を求め抗議に訪れたフリーランスらに対して、敵意を露わにしている。You Tube:『国有財産である国会記者会館を記者クラブが私物化』



日本において、原子力政策は非常にセンシティブな話題だ。ジャーナリストの田中稔氏は今年5月から法的処置を通して執筆記事を巡り嫌がらせを受け続けている。福島第一原発問題等の真相を追及した調査報道の結果、名誉毀損で訴えられた。 (参照:





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