Yasukuni Won’t talk to Asahi over Unauthorized Disclosure of Shrine’s Properties

Remember that piece saying that Yasukuni was in financial trouble? Well, turns out the shrine itself wasn’t too happy about it:

Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday blocked Asahi Shimbun journalists from covering Junichiro Koizumi’s last visit to the site as prime minister on the 61st anniversary of the end of World War II.

The ban on Asahi reporters and photographers in the Shinto shrine’s precincts is in protest over a map of shrine holdings printed over the weekend by the daily.

The ban will remain in effect for an indefinite period, shrine officials said.

While one could argue that one less news agency covering major events in Japan could be beneficial (see what happened when the BOJ ended quantitative easing), it’s hard to see where this is coming from. The properties are a matter of public record, so it only makes sense that a story on the financial situation of a controversial shrine that, incidentally, may be nationalized if Foreign Minister Taro Aso has his way, would include information about the shrine’s holdings.

Anyway, I am not close to this issue. But I do have some questions:

  • For a news source to give the silent treatment to a news agency whose reporting it doesn’t like isn’t new, but perhaps Yasukuni is used to a more obsequious press that wouldn’t bother to inform readers of the actual facts behind the government’s proposals?
  • All major national newspapers, with the exception of Sankei, openly call for the PM and his successor to stop going). However, it is rumored that Asahi Shimbun has close ties to China and the Japanese left. And its editorials tend to be harder on the PM’s Yasukuni visits than other newspapers. Could the shrine (whose owners and major patrons do view it as the central national war memorial) and Asahi already have a bitter relationship? Does Asahi have a vendetta against Yasukuni?
  • The above question is premised on the fact that the Asahi Shimbun, as with other major newspapers, is not reknowned for its crack investigative journalism. Most reports are directed by government agenda-setting (see this latest “expose” on exploited foreign exchange students that looks as if it could have been written by the Ministry of Justice) and use scant outside sources (a by-product of the reporters’ club system and newspapers’ special privileges protecting them from competition).
  • Asahi has been reeling from scandals such as a faked memo that allegedly indicated that some of the postal rebels were going to form a new party. The scandals spurred the paper to launch a full-scale PR campaign as well as internal inquiries to reform the paper’s investigative journalism policy. Could the improved online access to more and longer articles from the newspaper, along with more expose-style pieces be the results of these new policies?
  • 4 thoughts on “Yasukuni Won’t talk to Asahi over Unauthorized Disclosure of Shrine’s Properties

    1. Adamu, I assume that you and Marxy know that Asahi is already a regular target of uyoku attacks:

      “Uyoko groups attacks against the press have gone largely unpunished. Police closed a number of stalled investigations into a wave of violence against the liberal newspaper Asahi Shimbun in 1988 and 1989, and also the murder of one of its reporters, Tomohiro Kojiri, on 3 May 1987. The extreme-right group Sekihotai claimed responsibility for the murder, but the police proved incapable of arresting the killers.”

      http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18334

      Things are getting weirder- and in a way, more authentically fascistic. Witness the uyoku who dismissed the Hirohito memo thusly:

      “If the Emperor really said things like that, I don’t want to worship him.”

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060816a4.html

    2. I believe the Yasukuni people said the Asahi was no longer welcome because it had “violated the privacy of our employees” by showing where the dormitories are located on said map. Something lame like that. Asahi’s “close ties to China” are a rallying cry for the Japanese right—see the Wikipedia page on Asahi Shimbun for discussion of that, and lots of “helpful” input from some righty contributor who tried to define the paper as “an enemy of capitalism” or some such thrilling thing. I kind of doubt the paper has any ties to Beijing beyond its publishing deal with the People’s Daily. But it does tip the farthest left of the major dailies, so it’s not surprising to see it singled out for this sort of treatment.

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