Former Japanese internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi pledged Friday to quit as a lawmaker if a document indicating political pressure on broadcasters, made public by an opposition Diet member, is proven to be authentic.
Her remarks came a day after Hiroyuki Konishi, a lawmaker of the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, revealed the document suggesting the administration of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was eager to intervene in the freedom of broadcasting.
The document claims that between 2014 and 2015, the then government led by Abe urged the internal affairs ministry to change its interpretation of “political fairness” under the broadcasting law. Takaichi was the minister in charge of the matter at that time.
Konishi said Abe, known as a hawkish conservative who was fatally shot last year, and his aides had tried to put political pressure on broadcasters airing programs hostile to his administration and the Liberal Democratic Party.
Even though the internal affairs ministry has yet to determine whether the document is real or fake, Takaichi, who currently serves as economic security minister under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said at a parliamentary session that it was “fabricated.”
Asked by Konishi about whether she will step down as a Cabinet member and as a lawmaker if the document is proven to be real, Takaichi, a politician known for sharing Abe’s nationalistic stance on security and history issues, answered by saying, “Yes, I will.”
In November 2014, a then special advisor to Abe cast doubt on a TV program aired by a commercial broadcasting station, saying all of its commentators had voiced a similar view about the central government, according to the document.
The internal affairs ministry then explained its position to Abe in March 2015 on the interpretation of the broadcasting law, the document said, to which Abe responded by emphasizing the need to rectify TV programs judged unfair.
During her term as the internal affairs minister, Takaichi said it was possible broadcasters would be taken off the air if it was deemed they had repeatedly aired programs that lacked political fairness.
On Friday, meanwhile, Japan’s current internal affairs minister, Takeaki Matsumoto, said at the parliamentary session that his ministry has not changed its stance on the interpretation of political fairness under the broadcasting law.
Source: japan today