Den Hideo on the Japanese Media

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From 1962 to 1968, Den Hideo hosted the TBS news show “News Scope,” becoming the original prototype for the Japanese kyastaa (newscaster). In WWII, he had been moments away from departing on a kamikaze suicide mission when news came of the war’s end.

After making comments on his show critical of the LDP’s leadership and foreign policy, Den was forced to quit his job as newscaster and later went into politics, holding a longtime seat in the Diet’s Upper House as a member of the Japanese Socialist Party.

In 1972, Den said the following about leaving his job:

The fundamental reason that I had to step down from TBS News Scope was not that my reporting on the Japan-Korea problem, the defense problem, the Vietnam problem, or the Narita Airport problem was counter to the facts or biased, but that the broadcasted content was very unsatisfactory to and could not be tolerated by the VIPs in one section of the government’s Liberal Democratic Party. Actually, at the time that the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea was the greatest political issue, right after I broadcasted News Scope I received a call from the secretary to Prime Minister Sato, who said, ‘The Prime Minister just now saw the broadcast of your program, and I am making sure you know that he said that it was terribly unsatisfactory.’ You can surely call this pressure, but first of all, with a news program, there’s no reason we can give a supporting argument that would make Prime Minister Sato happy… Whether I yielded to political pressure and quit newscasting, or it was the firm that self-regulated the situation, it doesn’t matter to me now. More than that, with the mass media — which broadcasts under the permit system — it is of greatest concern to me that when the authorities simply pose that they are unsatisfied, even in the most hidden, minute way, the weak mass communications structure totally loses its backbone. This is something I can not tolerate. Rather than a ‘mass communications structure,’ it’s probably more correct to say that it’s just a human organization corresponding to that structure. (“The Myth and Reality of the Information Revolution,” 1972)

(As quoted in テレビー「やらせ」と「情報操作」 by 渡辺武達, 1995. Translation mine.)

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

9 Responses

  1. Chris_B Says:

    thanks, quotes and facts from primary sources are more edifying than rants.

  2. Just a Passerby Says:

    So the problem is that japanese are spineless asskissers and the so-called fourth estate is entirely subjugated to state authorities?

  3. marxy Says:

    I don’t know about “spineless asskissers,” but if you asked the Japanese media about the “Fourth Estate,” they’d say, “Is that a company possibly interested in advertising with us?”

  4. r. Says:

    david,
    nice translation!
    for me, other than the main point that you are pounding away at, the interesting thing about this snippet was the year…1972!!! what’s the situation now, more than 30 years after this was written? better or worse?

  5. r. Says:

    david,
    nice translation!
    for me, other than the main point that you are pounding away at, the interesting thing about this snippet was the year…1972!!! what’s the situation now, more than 30 years after this was written? better or worse?

  6. marxy Says:

    This is Den Hideo’s webpage:

    http://www011.upp.so-net.ne.jp/dennews/

    Another interesting note, he’s a long time Pacificist and has always fought for the view that the Nanjing Massacre did happen. Plus, he evidentally likes bluegrass.

  7. marxy Says:

    what’s the situation now, more than 30 years after this was written? better or worse?

    I would guess that the political pressure is lower, but with no real viable left-wing in Japan, who needs to tell the newscasters to be quiet!?

  8. guest Says:

    Great blog, Marxy! Surely you’re aware of an incident that occurred a few years back but was only recently brought to light by a whistle-blower, in which cuts were made to an NHK documentary on “comfort women” at the behest of LDP bigwigs. It was all over the news earlier this year. If that’s not political pressure, I don’t know what is!

    http://www.asahi.com/english/politics/TKY200501120160.html

    http://www.asahi.com/english/opinion/TKY200503020159.html

    http://www.asahi.com/english/vox/TKY200501150179.html

    http://www.asahi.com/english/opinion/TKY200502240170.html

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200503170119.html

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200503290128.html

    Quite a lot of dissenting voices there. I may be wrong, but it has long been my impression that the Asahi Shimbun holds itself to comparitively high standards of journalistic ethics…

    I would also recommend the monthly magazine Sekai, published by Iwanami Shoten. This magazine covers a range of left/liberal issues and is widely available in better bookstores throughout the country. It may be just the “Japanese Mother Jones” you are looking for:

    (Japanese, current)
    http://www.iwanami.co.jp/sekai/

    (English, apparently not updated)
    http://www.iwanami.co.jp/jpworld/top.html

    On a related note, did anyone else notice the competing demonstrations in Tokyo at the beginning of Golden Week? At issue was the re-renaming of Greenery Day in honor of Hirohito. It was uyoku vs. peaceniks, and sadly you can probably guess which group merited the more intimidating police presence…

  9. marxy Says:

    Thanks for the links. I will check them out.

    I did know about the NHK scandal, and what’s interesting is that even though the head of NHK had to resign because of bowing to right-wing pressure, but no one seemed to be angry at the LDP/government for its actions. Kind of like: “Oh, the LDP will be LDP!”

    Quite a lot of dissenting voices there. I may be wrong, but it has long been my impression that the Asahi Shimbun holds itself to comparitively high standards of journalistic ethics…

    The Asahi Shimbun is the best of the bunch, although they still work within the kisha club system and generally obey the rules of not going into “taboo” territory.