The largest known gang in the world is called the Yamaguchi Gumi, one
of several groups collectively referred to in Japan as “Yakuza,” a term
that is roughly equivalent to the American use of “mafia.” The
Yamaguchi Gumi make more money from drug trafficking than any other
to Hiromitsu Suganuma, Japan’s former national police chief. The next
two leading sources of revenue are gambling and extortion, followed
closely by “dispute resolution.”
The Yakuza date back hundreds of years, and according to Dennis McCarthy, author of An Economic History of Organized Crime,
Yakuza groups are among the most centralized in the world. While other
East Asian gangs like Chinese Triads, which are a loose conglomeration
of criminals bonded together mostly by familial relations, Yakuza are
bound together by “elaborate hierarchies,” and members, once initiated,
must subvert all other allegiances in favor of the Yakuza. Even with the
Japanese government cracking down on Yakuza in recent years, this
centralized structure has made it easy to attribute a massive amount of
revenue to this single gang.
TOKYO—The president of a leading Japanese newspaper critical of Prime Minister
policies apologized Thursday over errors in its reporting on controversial subjects, and promised to carry out reforms.
president of the left-leaning
Shimbun newspaper, said mistakes were made in the paper's scoop
on leaked testimony of the late manager of the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear-power plant, and said he would remove the paper's executive
editor from his post.
management, I myself cannot evade responsibility for hurting the trust
of our readers," Mr. Kimura said, adding that he will decide on his own
future after initiating fundamental changes.
plant head at Fukushima Daiichi during the March 2011 nuclear
accident, gave testimony to a government commission investigating the
accidents. The Asahi, which has been critical of nuclear power and Mr.
Abe's plans to restart idled reactors, first published parts of the
testimony in May.
Citing the testimony,
the newspaper said employees at the plant violated Mr. Yoshida's orders
and temporarily left their posts to seek shelter on March 15, four days
after the disaster, after hearing an explosion at one of the plant's
The newspaper cited the episode as casting doubts on the plant's operator,
Tokyo Electric Power Co.
, and more broadly on the nation's big utility companies. But the
paper's claims came under scrutiny after a rival, right-leaning paper
got a copy of the testimony and said the Asahi deliberately exaggerated
its story and "twisted the facts" to advance its agenda.
Sankei Shimbun newspaper said the plant's management sought shelter in
confusion, but had no intention of violating the orders of Mr. Yoshida,
who died in 2013.
"We will retract our
description that they evacuated against orders, and would like to offer
our sincere apologies to our readers and the people at Tepco," Mr.
The government released Mr.
Yoshida's testimony to the public Thursday to set the record straight
and prevent selective quotation by news outlets.
Kimura's apology comes as the 135-year-old newspaper faces mounting
criticism for errors on the politically sensitive issue of "comfort
women," who were forced into sexual service for Japanese soldiers during
World War II.
In August, the Asahi
retracted articles quoting a now-deceased Japanese man who said he had
forcibly removed Korean women from their homes for sexual service,
saying his accounts couldn't be confirmed. Rival newspapers and tabloids
jumped on the Asahi, saying the errors hurt the paper's credibility and
were responsible for amplifying diplomatic tensions between Tokyo and
Seoul, which disagree bitterly over the treatment of such women.
Minister Abe has been critical of the Asahi's reporting on the
comfort-women issue. During a radio interview Thursday, he said the
Asahi's inaccurate reports led to the "suffering of many people, and
discredited Japan's standing in the international community."
Asahi has criticized Mr. Abe's hawkish national security policies and
his decision to lift a ban on the use of the military, so Japanese
forces could come to the aid of allies if they ever came under attack.
Asahi faced more pressure when it refused to publish an opinion piece
by a well-known journalist on the paper's retraction of its
comfort-women articles. Facing a public backlash and questions over its
commitment to free expression, the paper quickly reversed its decision
and published the article.
have tarnished the reputation of the respected paper, which boasts one
of the highest circulations in Japan, selling millions of copies daily.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest daily newspaper, retracted an influential report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster on Thursday after weeks of criticism from other media organizations.
move, which included an apology, came a month after the newspaper
retracted a series of stories on another hot-button issue, Japan’s
hurt readers’ trust in our reports,” Tadakazu Kimura, Asahi Shimbun’s
president and chief executive officer, said at a news conference
Kimura announced that he was dismissing Nobuyuki Sugiura, Asahi
Shimbun’s executive editor, and would punish other editors involved in
the Fukushima reporting. Mr. Kimura said he would decide whether he
himself would resign after carrying out a “drastic restructuring plan.”
May, the newspaper cited testimony given by the Fukushima plant
manager, Masao Yoshida, in reporting that about 650 workers disobeyed
orders and fled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant at a critical moment
during the disaster in 2011.
recent weeks other Japanese news organizations have reported on Mr.
Yoshida’s testimony. Reports from The Mainichi Shimbun, The Yomiuri
Shimbun and The Sankei Shimbun, three other leading newspapers, and the
Kyodo News agency portrayed his comments differently, saying that the exodus was the result of miscommunication.
Mr. Yoshida died last year of throat cancer at the age of 58. His interviews with investigators stretch over 400 pages.
Yoshida, who is regarded by many in Japan as a hero for preventing a
wider disaster, had asked that the contents of his interviews not be
made public. The government, however, released the text of his interview
on Thursday, saying it was necessary to clarify the public record.
a part of the record of Mr. Yoshida’s testimony has been picked up and
reported by several papers,” said Yoshihide Suga, the top government
spokesman. “His original concern that his story would develop a life of
its own without verification came to be realized. We think it would lead
to a result that is against his will if we don’t disclose it.”
the Fukushima disaster, the liberal Asahi Shimbun has campaigned
against nuclear power in its editorial pages, saying it regretted its
earlier support. The conservative Yomiuri Shimbun has been critical of
Asahi’s coverage, saying its report on Mr. Yoshida’s testimony “caused serious misunderstandings among the international media.”
The Asahi Shimbun’s coverage of another sensitive topic has also come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Last month the newspaper retracted 16 stories,
the first published in September 1982, citing a Japanese Imperial Army
veteran who said he had rounded up Korean women to serve as sex slaves
during World War II.
issued a formal apology in 1993 to women on the Korean Peninsula and in
other places occupied by Japan during the war who were forced to work
in brothels that served its military.
most historians agree that Japan forced tens of thousands of women to
work in a network of wartime brothels, some have long questioned the
particular evidence given by Seiji Yoshida, a soldier who later became a writer. Shinzo Abe called him a “con man” in a speech in November 2012, shortly before taking office as prime minister.
Abe, a nationalist who has a reputation for trying to end what he calls
a masochistic view of Japan’s history, told a radio program on Thursday
that he would not comment directly on The Asahi Shimbun. But he said,
“I think it is true that, by the false reporting on comfort women, for
example, a lot of people have suffered, and Japan was discredited in
international society,” the broadcaster NHK reported.
Asahi Shimbun said that it dispatched reporters to South Korea’s Jeju
Island in April and May to corroborate Mr. Yoshida’s claims, but that
after interviewing about 40 people, they were unable to do so. Mr.
Yoshida died in 2000 and had declined to help in previous efforts to
investigate his claims, the newspaper said.
February Mr. Abe ordered an investigation into the government’s apology
for the sex slaves, also known by the euphemism “comfort women.” That
effort sparked criticism from China and South Korea, which say Japan has
not come to terms with the brutality of its wars against its neighbors.
is broad evidence to support the existence of wartime sex slaves, The
Asahi Shimbun wrote last month in an article questioning whether the
retraction of the stories citing Mr. Yoshida was being used to undermine
Japan’s apology on the issue.
newspaper came under further criticism last week after it spiked a
column from a well-known contributor, Akira Ikegami, who said that the
paper’s retraction of the comfort women story was too late and didn’t go
far enough, and that the newspaper should apologize. Following
criticism from readers and members of its own staff, the paper reversed
course and published the piece.
Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo.
Sankei Shimbun’s correspondent is facing a possible seven-year jail term.
Tatsuya Kato, a Japanese journalist who is the Tokyo newspaper Sankei Shimbun’s
Seoul correspondent, is the subject of a criminal libel prosecution
over a story about South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s actions at the
time of Sewol ferry’s sinking on 16 April.
The newspaper had no inkling that Kato’s story would
elicit such a heavy-handed reaction from the president’s supporters when
it was posted online on 3 August.
Prosecutors have questioned Kato several times since 18
August as a result of the complaints filed by an association of South
Korean citizens. He is banned from leaving the country, he is under de facto surveillance and, if found guilty, he is facing a possible seven-year jail sentence.
His story was notably based on information published on 18 July in the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo,
which has not been the target of any complaint. Based on questioning of
the chief of staff at the presidential residence, called the Blue
House, Chosun Ilbo mentioned a “rumour,” alluding to speculation about the president’s actions at the time of the tragedy.
“It is completely normal for news media to ask
questions about the actions of politicians, including the president,”
said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia desk.
“Vagueness about the president’s agenda during a
national tragedy is clearly a subject of public interest. Furthermore,
Kato’s story was based on information which was already online and which
has not been the subject of any complaint. We call on the authorities
to drop the charges against Kato and to lift the restrictions on his
Five day’s after the article was posted online, two representatives of the South Korean embassy in Japan went to Sankei Shimbun’s headquarters to request its removal.
Kato was notified on 8 August that he was being
investigated and was interrogated for a total of 16 hours during the
next few days. Sankei Shimbun is known for being critical of South Korea and is not popular with the South Korean public.
A screen shot of the website of a neo-Nazi party, the National Socialist Japanese Workers Party, shows photos of leader Kazunari Yamada posing with Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Tomomi Inada (upper photo) and internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi.
National / Politics
Two of Abe’s new picks deny neo-Nazi links
Sep 8, 2014
Two newly promoted politicians moved Monday to distance themselves from allegations of extremism after pictures emerged of them posing alongside the leader of a neo-Nazi party.
Internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi and Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Tomomi Inada can be seen in separate photographs next to Kazunari Yamada on the home page of the National Socialist Japanese Workers Party.
The photos will add fuel to claims that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is increasingly surrounding himself with people on the far right.
Yamada’s blog postings indicate admiration for Adolf Hitler and praise for the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
In video footage posted on the website, Yamada is seen wearing a stylized swastika during street demonstrations.
Captions for the photographs claim they were taken “sometime in June or July 2011 when (Yamada) visited the conservative lawmakers for talks.”
Spokesmen for both senior lawmakers acknowledged Monday that the photographs are genuine and were taken in their offices over the last few years but denied there is any political affiliation.
“He was an assistant for an interviewer, and was taking notes and photos,” a staff member in Takaichi’s office said, referring to Yamada. “We had no idea who he was back then, but he requested a snapshot with her. (The minister) wouldn’t refuse such requests.”
Following media enquiries, Takaichi’s office has asked that the pictures be removed, the staff member said.
“It was careless of us,” he said, adding that Takaichi does not share Yamada’s view “at all. . . . It is a nuisance.”
One of Inada’s staff members said the LDP policy chief does not subscribe to Nazi ideology.
“It is disappointing if there are people who would misunderstand that she does,” he said.
Abe has courted criticism for his strident nationalism and views on history that some find unpalatable.
In particular, his unwillingness to condemn Imperial Japan’s behavior up to and during World War II has proved a sticking point in international relations.
His equivocations about the formalized system of sex slavery — known euphemistically as “comfort women” — has particularly rankled South Korea and China, and both regularly call on him to re-think his views.
Abe’s new 18-strong Cabinet, announced last week, includes a number of people with hawkish views.
Takaichi and Inada have both visited Yasukuni Shrine, the repository of the souls of Japan’s war dead, including a number of convicted war criminals. The shrine is regarded by many Asians as a symbol of Japan’s lack of repentance for the war.
Joseph Nye huffington post Japan's Robust Self-Defense Is Good for Asia Posted: 08/07/2014 3:03 pm EDT
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Since the end of World War II, Japan has been ruled by an American-written "peace constitution," Article 9 of which prohibits war and limits Japanese forces to self-defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now seeking legislation to enable Japan to reinterpret the constitution to include "collective self-defense," whereby the country would enhance its security cooperation with other countries, particularly its closest ally, the United States.
Critics view this as a radical departure from seven decades of pacifism. But Abe's central objectives -- improving Japan's ability to respond to threats that do not amount to armed attack; enabling Japan to participate more effectively in international peacekeeping activities; and redefining measures for self-defense permitted under Article 9 -- are actually relatively modest.
Fears that the move would lead to Japanese involvement in distant U.S. wars are similarly overblown. Indeed, the rules have been carefully crafted to prohibit such adventures, while allowing Japan to work more closely with the U.S. on direct threats to Japanese security.
It is not difficult to see why Abe is pursuing broader rights to self-defense. Japan lies in a dangerous region, in which deep-rooted tensions threaten to erupt at any moment.
Given that East Asia, unlike Europe after 1945, never experienced full reconciliation among rivals, or established strong regional institutions, it has been forced to depend on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty to underpin regional stability. When U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced its "rebalancing" toward Asia in 2011, it reaffirmed the 1996 Clinton-Hashimoto Declaration, which cited the U.S.-Japan security alliance as the foundation for stability -- a prerequisite for continued economic progress -- in Asia.
That declaration served the larger goal of establishing a stable, albeit uneven, triangular relationship among the U.S., Japan, and China. Subsequent U.S. administrations have upheld this approach, and opinion polls show that it retains broad acceptance in Japan -- not least owing to close cooperation on disaster relief following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
But Japan remains extremely vulnerable. The most immediate regional threat is North Korea, whose unpredictable dictatorship has invested its meager economic resources in nuclear and missile technology.
A longer-term concern is the rise of China -- an economic and demographic powerhouse whose expanding military capacity has enabled it to take an increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes, including with Japan in the East China Sea. China's territorial ambitions are also fueling tensions in the South China Sea, where sea-lanes that are vital to Japanese trade are located.
Complicating matters further is the fact that China's political evolution has failed to keep pace with its economic progress. If the Chinese Communist Party feels threatened by a public frustrated with insufficient political participation and enduring social repression, it could slip into competitive nationalism, upending the already-delicate regional status quo.
Of course, if China becomes aggressive, Asian countries like India and Australia -- which are already disturbed by China's assertiveness in the South China Sea -- will join Japan in the effort to offset China's power. But, as things stand, a strategy of containment would be a mistake. After all, the best way to engender enmity is to treat China as an enemy.
A more effective approach, spearheaded by the U.S. and Japan, would focus on integration, with a hedge against uncertainty. American and Japanese leaders must shape the regional environment in such a way that China has incentives to act responsibly, including by maintaining strong defense capabilities.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Japan must rethink the structure of their alliance. While the expected revisions to Japan's defense framework are a positive development, many Japanese still resent the lack of symmetry in the alliance obligations. Others chafe at the burden of U.S. bases, particularly on the island of Okinawa.
A longer-term goal should thus be for the U.S. gradually to transfer its bases to Japanese control, leaving American forces to rotate among them. In fact, some bases -- notably, Misawa Air Base north of Tokyo -- already fly Japan's flag, while hosting American units.
But the process must be handled carefully. As China invests in advanced ballistic missiles, the fixed bases on Okinawa become increasingly vulnerable. To avoid the perception that the U.S. decided to turn the bases over to Japan just when their military benefits were diminishing, and to ensure that the move represented America's recommitment to the alliance, a joint commission would have to be established to manage the transfer.
As S. Korea Cracks Down on Questioning of Park, Ban's UN Notably Silent
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- A recent and ongoing press freedom case in South Korea has echoed all the way to the UN in New York
. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was a long-time South Korean diplomat before taking up his UN post. But he has been notably quiet about press freedom generally, and now strikingly, with regard to South Korea.
The government in Seoul has summoned Sankei Shimbun's Tatsuya Kato on possible charges of defaming President Park Geun-hye, and has blocked him from leaving South Korea in the interim.
At issue is an article that Tatsuya Kato wrote and Sankei Shimbun published, citing the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo, that during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April, President Park was not seen for seven hours and may have been trysting with a recently divorced former aide.
While understandably causing anger, such a report should not trigger travel bans or criminal charges.
It is particularly troubling that while Tatsuya Kato of Japan's Sankei has been targeted, the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo from which he quoted is not being targeted.
This disparate treatment of journalists, based on nationality or other factors, should not be tolerated.
As a comparison, when Afghanistan recently imposed a similar travel ban on a New York Times reporter, not only the US State Department but also many others spoke out.
But when at the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman was twice -- three times, actually -- asked about South Korea's treatment of Sankei Shimbun's Tatsuya Kato, only platitudes emerged. Continuing the trend on August 31, Ban Ki-moon's comment on the coup in Lesotho did not mention that the military took over the television and radio stations there.
The day's New York Times recounted how South Korean artist Hong Sung-dam had his painting depicting Park Geun-hye and his view of her role in the sinking of the Sewol ferry censored by authorities in Gwangju.
Some including the new Free UN Coalition for Access, an anti-censorship alliance established at the UN during and counter to Ban Ki-moon's time in control, have noted a trend toward ignoring some attacks on the media.
How far back does it go? What will happen in South Korea, and at the UN? Watch this site.