Sunday, August 31, 2014

Asahi Shimbun must apologize for erroneous 'comfort women' reports

Asahi Shimbun must apologize for erroneous 'comfort women' reports An overwhelming number of people were surely disappointed in the Asahi Shimbun's articles on Aug. 5 and 6 "verifying" what led to its past coverage of so-called wartime comfort women. It was the company's attempt to deal head-on with the allegations of inaccurate reporting raised by various other media. However, the only errors the paper acknowledged were the credibility of the late Seiji Yoshida's testimony, and the confusion of "teishintai," or volunteer corps, with "comfort women." The remainder was, for the most part, evasive commentary. What was most surprising to readers was the lack of an apology throughout the paper. After the "verification articles" appeared in the Asahi, the Sankei Shimbun, which has been a critic of the Asahi over the issue, landed an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with which it reinforced its attacks on the Asahi. There is, however, the chance that the Asahi's circuitous stance will draw fire from beyond those usually critical of the Asahi. SBI Holdings President and CEO Yoshitaka Kitao, whose great-grandfather was in charge of sales at the fledgling Asahi, announced on his blog that he'd cancelled his years-long subscription to the daily. The majority of people in the media with whom I've spoken about this are of the opinion that the Asahi needs to issue an apology. Despite some doubts that had been raised since the early 1990s regarding the Asahi's coverage, the paper neglected to correct its errors for at least 20 years. This failure to act caused inaccurate information about the "comfort women" issue to spread, resulting even in diplomatic tensions. It's ironic, also, that the problem has had a hand in expanding the power of the right. The verification articles placed women's human rights front and center, and argued that the Asahi's awareness and understanding of the problem were valid. While that may be true, it is beside the point. This is not the stance that should be taken by a news organization that neglected to correct its erroneous reporting. If it had been another news organization in the midst of the controversy, how would the Asahi have reported it? (By Ken Mori, special to the Mainichi Shimbun) Related stories: How Asahi Shimbun assessed its coverage of 'comfort women' issue Asahi Shimbun claims essence of 'comfort women' issue remains same August 30, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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