Don't criticize the government!

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be sunny and warmer today and tomorrow-hopefully I won't get caught in the rain like yesterday! We should see a high of 11C today and 14C tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's looking like we'll see some rain on Saturday and cooler but sunny weather on Sunday with a high of 9C.

Ichiro Furutachi, Hiroko Kuniya and Shigetada Kishii - three respected broadcasters with a reputation for asking tough questions-will be leaving their jobs almost simultaneously. And some people are saying that it's no coincidence. 

Their imminent departure from evening news programmes is not just a loss to their profession; critics say they were forced out as part of a crackdown on media dissent by an increasingly intolerant prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and his supporters.

Only last week, the internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, sent a clear message to media organisations. Broadcasters that repeatedly failed to show "fairness" in their political coverage, despite official warnings, could be taken off the air, she told MPs.

Under broadcast laws, the internal affairs minister has the power to suspend broadcasting that does not maintain political neutrality.

"This is nothing but intimidation against broadcasters," the Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers' Union said in a statement. "[Takaichi's] remarks represent a glaring misinterpretation of the law and we demand that she promptly retract her remarks."

The three Japanese anchors have all courted controversy for refusing to follow the anodyne approach many of their colleagues take towards political coverage.

As the host of Hodo Station, a popular evening news programme on TV Asahi, Ichiro Furutachi was at the centre of a row last spring over claims by one of the show's regular pundits, Shigeaki Koga, that he had been forced to quit under pressure from government officials angered by his criticism of the Abe administration.

Shigetada Kishii, who appears on News 23 on the TBS network, angered government supporters last year after criticising security legislation pushed through parliament by Abe's Liberal Democratic party (LDP).

Perhaps most striking of all is the departure of Kuniya, the veteran presenter of Close-up Gendai, a current affairs programme on public broadcaster NHK.

Her “crime” had been to irritate Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary and a close Abe ally, with an unscripted follow-up question during a discussion about the security legislation.

These sound like the kind of things we'd expect from a communist country, not Japan. What do you think? Has the government overstepped its authority? Or does it have the right to control what is said on tv?

Have a great day!

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