Tradition and business interests
Yoshihide Suga, Shinzo Abe’s former right-hand man and successor as prime minister since September 2020, has done nothing to improve the climate for press freedom. The world’s third biggest economic power, Japan respects the principles of media freedom and pluralism. But journalists find it hard to fully play their role as democracy’s watchdog because of the influence of tradition and business interests. Journalists have been complaining of a climate of mistrust toward them ever since the nationalist right swept to power in the 2012 general election. The system of “kisha clubs” (reporters’ clubs) continues to discriminate against freelancers and foreign reporters. On social networks, nationalist groups harass journalists who are critical of the government or cover “anti-patriotic” subjects such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster or the US military presence in Okinawa. The government continues to refuse any debate about a law protecting “Specially-Designated Secrets,” under which whistleblowers, journalists and bloggers face up to ten years in prison if convicted of publishing information obtained “illegally”.
66 in 2020
28.86 in 2020