Monday, August 29, 2011
Kisha Club/The 3rd-Rate Journalist in Japan-II
-->Anyone who is studying “Japan” including language, culture, and society etc., will find an unusual word -- “Kisha club,” “press club”. Kisha club was historically established in 1890, originating from a small number of reporters who formed a group demanding the Imperial Diet to allow them to sit in on session. Today, Kisha club is mainly attached to government ministries and industries, and their members generally belong to major Japanese newspapers, broadcasters, and wire services. But, here is one of main differences from the Western press club. The membership of the Kisha club is limited to major Japanese news organizations and excludes foreign press, magazine reporters, and freelance journalists etc., who might be triggered criticism. In other words, like typical Japanese “iron-triangles,” The Kisha club embraces a cozy relationship between politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, and academic scholars. In fact, Katsumata Tsunehisa admitted in a news conference on March 30, that the Chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), was entertaining retired Japanese journalists in Beijing on March 11 as Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) (Japan Times, 3 May 2011). That may be why no Japanese journalists from the Kisha club has asked crucial questions during any press conferences held by Tepco, the Safety Agency, or the prime minister’s office.