Shii: Government's tampering with TV program amounts to violating Constitution and Broadcast Law

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a press conference on January 13 gave the following comment concerning the public broadcaster NHK's program being altered as a result of pressure from the government and the ruling party.

At a press conference today, NHK's chief producer in charge of educational programs for culture and welfare at the NHK program production bureau revealed that part two of a television series "How Should the War be Brought to Justice?" focusing on the wartime sex slavery issue aired in January 2001 had to undergo a major alteration due to political pressure from the government and the ruling party.

He revealed that Liberal Democratic Party Acting Secretary General Abe Shinzo (then chief cabinet secretary) and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nakagawa Shoichi (then House of Representatives member) summoned the NHK parliamentary liaison to use his influence to cancel the program, resulting in a major alteration of the program to the extent that the program's stated intent was undermined.

Politicians of the government or ruling parties are barred from requesting broadcasters to cancel or alter the contents of a TV program because these acts go against democracy. They are in violation of the Constitution's Article 21 that guarantees the freedom of speech, expression, and press, and prohibits censorship, as well as of Article 3 of the Broadcast Law prohibiting external intervention into the contents of broadcast.

The politicians who used their influence to pressure NHK and NHK officials who succumbed to pressure to alter the program must be held responsible.

It is serious that both Nakagawa and Abe are defiant of criticism in saying that they only "requested NHK to be fair and neutral in airing programs," without showing awareness that such an act is unconstitutional and even goes against the Broadcast Law.

In January 2001, Abe was the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. Nakagawa is a state minister now. Their acts are more than politicians' political intervention in a specific TV program. We must point out that key cabinet members were involved in the political intervention. It is clear that the Koizumi Cabinet must be held responsible.

What is worse, Abe and Nakagawa urged NHK to stop broadcasting the program on the grounds that it is "not fair" for NHK to critically depict the wartime 'comfort women' system in the former Japanese Army. This view contradicts the government statement of August 1993, a promise it made to the world--admitting former Japanese military involvement in the historic crime and expressing its "apologies and remorse for it".

In dealing with this question Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro must be aware that this is a serious matter attracting attention from throughout the world as well as the Japanese people.

The Japanese Communist Party demands that the Diet summon Nakagawa and Abe in order to investigate the case and inquire into their responsibilities for their censorship.

Equally, NHK must be held responsible for altering the program by yielding to unjustifiable pressure and for making false reports denying the existence of such political 'pressure.' The JCP demands that NHK make public everything about the case, find the truth, and make clear the responsibility of NHK officials concerned. (end)

The Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party
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