&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Politics and the press

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Politics and the press

Tsuneo Watanabe, 77, president and chief editor of the Yomiuri Shimbun, a newspaper with the largest circulation in Japan, recently contributed an article titled “A friendly and frank talk with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.” In the article, the author called Mr. Koizumi, “just a bourgeois child from Keio University,” “a politician of short-term slogans” and “a politician who prefers Kabuki to reading.” Not surprisingly, the article became a hot topic of conversation in Japan.
Mr. Watanabe, who also heads an association of Japanese newspapers, can be called a “half-politician.” He has been deeply involved with the political world since he was a young political writer for the Yomiuri Shimbun. In the early 1960s, he contributed to the recovery of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan by connecting Kim Jong-pil (now leader of the United Liberal Democrats), an envoy from Korea’s Park Chung Hee administration, with Banboku Ohno, an influential figure in the Japanese political world.
Mr. Watanabe also helped Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former prime minister of Japan, be appointed minister of science and technology in 1959, according to “Journalism and Power,” by the journalist Uozumi Akira. Perhaps it was possible for him to speak with “frankness and friendliness” to Mr. Koizumi since Mr. Watanabe is such a powerful figure.
There should be basic tensions between the media and the political world. The case of Mr. Watanabe is a peculiar one and it has caused disputes throughout Japan. As for Korea, tensions between the two sides have changed according to the rise and fall of powers.
A thesis titled “Analysis of news reports on inter-Korean relations before and after the replacement of powers,” by Yun Yeong-chul, a domestic analyst, compares several newspaper reports on the infiltration of a North Korean submarine in 1996 under the previous administration and an engagement between the two Koreas’ battleships in the Yellow Sea in 1999 under the Kim Dae-jung administration. Those newspapers reported the cases differently, according to their political views. An analysis of reports by the three broadcasting companies during the presidential campaign last year initially showed negative views of Roh Moo-hyun. As more people got behind Mr. Roh, all three companies toned down their negative views.

by Noh Jae-hyun

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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