Ex-premiers Koizumi, Hosokawa to establish antinuclear power forum — GlobalPost

” Former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa will establish an antinuclear power forum in May to promote research into renewable power sources and support antinuclear candidates in elections, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The inauguration meeting will be held May 7, according to the sources.

Hosokawa, who was in power between August 1993 and April 1994, ran in the Tokyo gubernatorial election earlier this year with support from Koizumi on an antinuclear platform, but lost to Yoichi Masuzoe. Koizumi served as prime minister between April 2001 and September 2006.

The two are mulling supporting antinuclear candidates in the gubernatorial election this fall in Fukushima Prefecture, the home of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and next spring’s nationwide local elections, the sources said.

Among other founders of the forum are philosopher Takeshi Umehara and Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke, they said.

==Kyodo ”


Scholar quits NHK over nuclear power hush-up — The Japan Times; Japan’s public broadcaster faces accusations of shift to the right — The New York Times

” A noted professor who regularly provides commentary on an NHK AM radio show has resigned from the program in protest over the public broadcaster’s demand that nuclear power not be discussed until after the Feb. 9 Tokyo gubernatorial election.

Toru Nakakita, a professor of economics at Toyo University in Tokyo, said the director of the “Radio 1″ morning news program told him Wednesday to change the subject of his commentary, after he had submitted an outline for a segment to air the following day.

The segment, “Business Tenbo” (“Business Outlook”), which is broadcast every weekday morning, features guest commentary from academics in the fields of business and economics. For the Thursday morning edition, Nakakita was planning to talk about the rising operating costs of nuclear power worldwide, in light of a recent surge in insurance premiums and safety costs. He was also intending to discuss the fact that in Japan the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants is not adequately reflected on the utilities’ balance sheets.

After reviewing his draft, the director of the news program told him to wait until after the election, on grounds his comments “would affect the voting behavior” of the listeners, Nakakita quoted the NHK director as saying.

An official in NHK’s public relations department acknowledged the demand had been made. The public TV and radio network, the official said, has a responsibility to “ensure fairness by introducing both sides of the issues on a program-to-program or a series-to-series basis.”

The official said Nakakita’s commentary couldn’t be aired because NHK had determined it wasn’t possible to book another expert with an opposing view during Thursday’s segment, or on the same program before the end of the election campaign.

“Nuclear power is one of the issues in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, and we need to be especially careful about ensuring fairness,” the official said. “It could have been possible to feature another expert with a different viewpoint soon before or after (Nakakita’s) appearance, but because we received his draft the day before the scheduled broadcast, and because we have limited editions of the program during the campaign period, we decided it would be difficult to air a contrasting view.”

“Economists deal in all things in nature,” Nakakita told The Japan Times.

“The director kept insisting that people vote based on ‘impressions.’ But I wonder if it’s OK to say we can talk about (contentious issues) at length only after the election. What if I had talked about welfare? Wouldn’t that have affected the voting behavior?

“The media should choose various issues especially during the campaign,” he added. “If they don’t, voters will go to the polls with no information to base their judgments on. Isn’t it the mission of the news organizations to have the guts to give more information to the public?” he said.

Nuclear power came to the fore of the gubernatorial race when former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, a staunch opponent of nuclear power, announced his candidacy.

Last week, Peter Barakan, a freelance radio show host, revealed in his morning music and news program on InterFM that he had been pressured by “two broadcasting stations” not to touch on nuclear power issues until after Feb. 9. He didn’t identify the stations, but he works for NHK FM Radio and NHK World, as well as other private TV and radio stations. ”


The New York Times article:

” TOKYO — First, there was the abrupt resignation of a president accused by governing party politicians of allowing an overly liberal tone to news coverage. Then, his newly appointed successor immediately drew public ire when he seemed to proclaim that he would loyally toe the line of the current conservative government.

Still more public criticism came Thursday, when a longtime commentator on economic affairs angrily announced that he had resigned after being told not to criticize nuclear power ahead of a crucial election.

These are hard times for NHK, Japan’s influential public broadcaster, which faces an increasing number of accusations that the pro-nuclear, right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is interfering in its work. NHK’s new president, Katsuto Momii, a former vice president at a trading company, seemed to confirm those fears in his inaugural news conference last weekend, when he stated, “We cannot say left when the government says right.” …

… The broadcaster has also been accused of blunting its criticism of atomic power and the Fukushima disaster because of pressure from the powerful nuclear industry and its political allies in the governing party. Jun Hori, a popular NHK television news announcer, quit last year after he was questioned by superiors for more than six hours about a documentary that he had made describing nuclear accidents in the United States.

On Thursday, Toru Nakakita, an economics professor, said he had severed ties with an NHK radio show on which he had appeared regularly for 20 years after it told him not to say anything critical of nuclear power to avoid possibly swaying a coming election for Tokyo governor. An NHK spokesman said the demand was made to ensure balanced coverage during the election.

“NHK is scared of being criticized as antinuclear,” said Mr. Hori, who now works as a freelance journalist. “NHK has become a place where it is hard to speak out against authority. This is unhealthy for democracy.” “

read full article

Barakan says broadcasters told him to avoid nuclear issues till after poll — The Japan Times

” Freelance TV and radio commentator Peter Barakan said he was pressured by two broadcast stations to steer clear of nuclear power issues on his programs until after the Tokyo gubernatorial election on Feb. 9, causing concern among some about possible media censorship.

Barakan, who hosts the three-hour radio show “Barakan Morning” every Monday through Thursday on InterFM, a private radio station, mentioned the “requests” on his live show Monday but didn’t identify the stations. Nor did he say when or why the requests were made.

“I have been told by two stations (other than InterFM) not to touch on the nuclear issue until the gubernatorial election is over, even though the campaign has not officially kicked off,” he said during the show.

In no time, listeners were posting comments, particularly on Twitter, expressing their shock and outrage at the possible restraint on freedom of speech. Contacted by The Japan Times on Wednesday, Barakan said he was taken aback by the uproar but preferred not to go into detail about the matter. In addition to “Barakan Morning,” he hosts several other news and music shows on radio and TV, including for NHK.

“What happened was, I made a very casual comment on my program, and I didn’t anticipate how overheated Twitter was going to get,” he said. “It took me a little by surprise. It’s gone a little bit too far.

“I probably made the wrong comment,” he added. “But somebody needs to bring these issues into the media. I probably should’ve done it in a different way.”

The direction of the nation’s nuclear policy came to the forefront of public debate again earlier this month when former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, an opponent of nuclear power, announced his intention to seek the governorship. Backed by popular ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, another outspoken critic of nuclear power, a Hosokawa victory could deal a severe blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to promote nuclear power overseas and restart the nation’s reactors, some of which are now undergoing safety checks made mandatory after the March 2011 triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Hosokawa has expressed his resolve to phase out atomic power if elected. While Tokyo hosts no nuclear plants, its governor has great influence over governors of other prefectures hosting them.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is also one of the largest shareholders of the struggling Tepco. ”