Just days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would call a snap election, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party sent a letter to Japan’s five major television networks asking for fair and impartial coverage of the coming campaign. Signed by a top aide to Mr. Abe and another party official, the letter made specific requests: balance in the number of appearances and total airtime given to candidates, for example, and in the political views offered through man-on-the-street interviews. Sent late last month, the letter was the latest example of the tense relationship between Mr. Abe’s conservative government and the Japanese media, particularly left-leaning newspapers and networks.
Critics have accused his government of endangering press freedom, such as with a state-secrets law last year that Reporters Without Borders described as “an unprecedented threat to freedom of information.”
“The press is supposed to be the watchdog of democracy,” said Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of media law at Tokyo’s Sophia University. “Instead, they’re being ordered to guard power.”
LDP officials said the letter to the networks was a simple request for unbiased coverage.
Full Article: Japanese Media Under New Pressure Ahead of Election – WSJ.