UN report raise concerns about free media in Japan

A UN expert on freedom of expression has submitted a report expressing concerns about media independence in Japan.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye submitted the report on Wednesday at an annual meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Kaye is a professor at the University of California, Irvine.

In the report, Kaye noted instances of Japanese government officials directly or indirectly pressuring members of the media.

He said the state secrecy law and other restrictions have had a chilling effect on reporting that is critical of the government, and on investigative reporting.

Kaye submitted a similar report to the UN Human Rights Council two years ago. He urged the government to review the Broadcast Act to strengthen media independence by removing the legal basis for government interference. He says there have been no apparent moves to this end.

Ken Okaniwa, ambassador of Japan's permanent mission to the international organizations in Geneva, objected to Kaye's findings. He said Japan's constitution fully guarantees free expression.

Okaniwa said the Japanese government is taking steps to protect basic values, including freedom and democracy.