The court ruling on NHK’s program on a mock trial of WWII sex slavery criminals has been controversial in Japan recently (e.g. Japan’s NHK in WWII sex slave row in BBC, NHK stung by censorship suit appeal in the Japan Times, Court orders NHK to pay compensation over program on sex slaves in MSN Mainichi).
“The Tokyo High Court on Monday expanded on a lower court ruling and ordered NHK and two production companies to pay damages to a women’s rights group (VAWW-NET Japan) for altering the content of a documentary on a mock tribunal over Japan’s wartime sexual slavery… At the center of the case is a segment that was deleted by NHK in which the tribunal found the late Emperor Hirohito guilty of allowing the institutionalization of sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women.” (The Japan Times)
It is alledged that PM Abe (then deputy chief Cabinet secretary) and Shoichi Nakagawa pressured NHK to alter the program since they thought “its contents were biased.”
The timing of the release of this news was interesting to me since I had just attended a talk a few days earlier by a senior Yomiuri journalist at school discussing Yomiuri’s new publication called “Who Was Responsible?”. According to the speaker, the goal of the project was to help the Japanese themselves face and come to terms with the issue of war responsibility. The Yomiuri team on this project named 32 individuals who were responsible for the war, and also concluded that Emperor Hirohito was not guilty. The audience was curious how the Yomiuri team could come to this conclusion, and the journalist emphasized the structural setting in which Hirohito was forced to play his role. He also mentioned that Japanese politicians acknowledged their work without any overt (or covert) criticisms.
I did not realize how the issue of the guilt of Emperor Hirohito could still be such a political issue at this point. Now I am more interested to know whether politicians really played no role in the team’s discussion on the issue addressed by the Yomiuri project (although it is easy to imagine that Yomiuri’s team could have reached this conclusion without any political pressure from outside)…