zoom RSS 社説:首相の「捏造」発言 冷静さを欠いている

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November 03, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Prime Minister Abe's 'fabrication' remarks lack levelheadedness
社説:首相の「捏造」発言 冷静さを欠いている

It's mindboggling that a nation's prime minister can flippantly accuse a major newspaper of fabricating a story.

By definition, a fabrication is the act of making something up where nothing exists; it is not a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of facts. During Diet deliberations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accused the Asahi Shimbun of fabricating a story. But the prime minister needs to calmly rethink whether the report he was referring to in his statement constitutes a fabrication.

Here are the facts: On Oct. 29, the prime minister had lunch with his close aides. After the meeting, one of the lawmakers who had been in attendance told reporters that the prime minister had said the ruling and opposition camps "should call a cease-fire" over the political funding scandals. The next morning, the Asahi and other media outlets, including the Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun and the Nikkei daily newspapers, reported the story.

But during Diet deliberations on Oct. 30 and 31, the prime minister singled out the Asahi's article, saying, "I did not say that. Creating a fire where there is nothing is fabrication."

The aide who had attributed the "cease-fire" comment to the prime minister subsequently retracted the earlier statement, saying, "I was the one who said that. I said, 'This should result in a cease-fire,' and the prime minister merely agreed." In other words, the prime minister's aide made the error that led to the news reports.

Abe argued that "statements should be confirmed with the person who made them." We agree. But at present, reporters are only given occasional opportunities to pose questions to the prime minister at times deemed convenient by the prime minister's camp. If the prime minister feels so strongly about statements coming directly from the source, why not set regular interviews with reporters twice a day, as was the practice when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was in office?

The prime minister seems to be entrenched in viewing the Asahi as his enemy. Even in his latest remarks, he appears to be trying to say that the Asahi is bent on criticizing him no matter what. He told the Diet, "The editor-in-chief of the Asahi apparently once said that the company's mission is to bring down the Abe administration." However, the Asahi has denied such allegations, and it remains unclear how much evidence the prime minister has to back up such a statement.

Does Abe believe that a large proportion of the public will applaud him if he employs the term "fabrication" to criticize a newspaper that has been embroiled in a scandal involving its reporting of the so-called wartime comfort women issue and testimony by the late former head of the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant?

Regardless, in the latest case, the prime minister does not appear to have closely investigated the events that led to the reports. The problem could have been easily resolved if he'd just clarified that he was not the one who made the "cease-fire" remark, and asked media outlets to correct the misunderstanding.

Prime Minister Abe tends to devote his efforts to making attacks, rather than lending an ear to criticism. With the money scandals involving Cabinet ministers nowhere near resolution, he seems to be irritable of late. But witnessing him vigorously criticizing the media brings into question his ability to be levelheaded in dealing with the various domestic and diplomatic challenges that Japan faces.

毎日新聞 2014年11月02日 02時30分(最終更新 11月02日 13時55分)

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