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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (121)

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Sydney shock to press freedom


Broadcast news: above, “. . . it’s off into the night for the six AFP officers . . .
I think there’s a big question for the Australian public: is this what a free press looks like?”
Executive Editor of ABC News, John Lyons live-tweeted the raid.


The Australian Federal Police conducted two high-profile raids on journalists who exposed government secrets

By Rebecca Ananian-Welsh

On June 4, seven officers spent several hours searching News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s Canberra home, her mobile phone and computer. The police linked the raid to “the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret.” This stemmed from Smethurst’s 2018 article that contained images of a “top secret” memo and reported that senior government officials were considering moves to empower the Australian Signals Directorate to covertly monitor Australian citizens for the first time. 

Soon after, 2GB Radio presenter Ben Fordham revealed he had been notified by the Department of Home Affairs that he was the subject of a similar investigation, aimed at identifying the source of classified information he had reported regarding intercepted boat arrivals.

On June 5, the federal police raided the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Sydney headquarters, a dramatic development that was connected to a 2017 “Afghan files” report based on “hundreds of pages of secret defense force documents leaked to the ABC.” These documents revealed disturbing allegations of misconduct by Australian special forces.

The reaction to the raids was immediate and widespread. The New York Times quoted News Corp’s description of the Smethurst raid as “a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quick to distance his government from the federal police’s actions, while opposition leader Anthony Albanese condemned the raids.

To those familiar with the ever-expanding field of Australian national security law, these developments were unlikely to surprise. In particular, enhanced data surveillance powers and a new suite of secrecy offenses introduced in late 2018 have sparked widespread concern over the future of public interest journalism in Australia.

But the crackdown of the past few days reveals that at least two of the core fears expressed by lawyers and the media industry were well-founded: first, the demise of source confidentiality, and second, a chilling effect on public interest journalism.


Source confidentiality

Upon finding out he was the subject of an investigation aimed at uncovering his sources of government information, Fordham declared, “The chance of me revealing my sources is zero. Not today, not tomorrow, next week or next month. There is not a hope in hell of that happening.” Source confidentiality is one of journalism’s central ethical principles. It is recognized by the UN and is vital to a functioning democracy and free, independent, robust, and effective media.

One of the greatest threats to source confidentiality is Australia’s uniquely broad data surveillance framework. The 2015 metadata retention scheme requires that all metadata—that is, data about a device or communication but not the communication itself—be retained for two years, and it may be covertly accessed by a wide array of government agencies without a warrant. Some reports suggest that by late 2018, some 350,000 requests for access to metadata were being received by telecommunications service providers each year.

The government was not blind to the potential impact of this scheme on source confidentiality. For example, obtaining metadata relating to a journalist’s mobile phone could reveal where they go and who they contact, easily pointing to their sources. This led to the introduction of the “Journalist Information Warrant,” or JIW. This warrant is required if an agency wishes to access retained metadata for the direct purpose of identifying a professional journalist’s source.

So access to a professional journalist’s metadata in order to identify a confidential source is permitted, provided the access has a particular criminal investigation or enforcement purpose and the agency can show it is in the public interest and therefore obtain a JIW.

The June raids suggest several possibilities: that either JIWs could not be obtained in relation to Smethurst, Fordham, or the ABC journalists; the journalists’ metadata did not reveal their sources; or federal police did not attempt to access their metadata. If metadata had identified the journalists’ sources, it is unclear why this week’s dramatic developments took place.

After 2015, journalists were advised to avoid using their mobile devices in source communications. They were also encouraged, wherever possible, to encrypt communications. But in 2018, the government went some way to closing down this option when it introduced the complex and highly controversial Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018.

As well as expanding computer access and network access warrants, the Act provided a means for government agencies to co-opt those in the telecommunications industry to assist agencies with their investigations. This could include covertly installing weaknesses and vulnerabilities in specific devices, circumventing passwords, or allowing encrypted communications to be decrypted. A warrant would then be required to access the device and communication data.

It is impossible to know whether Australian journalists have been targeted under the Act or have had weaknesses or spyware installed on their personal devices. The recent raids suggest the Australian Federal Police are prepared to target journalists under this framework in order to identify journalists’ confidential sources. However, this could only be done for certain purposes, including in the investigation of a secrecy offense.


Secrecy offenses

In June 2018, the government introduced a suite of new espionage, foreign interference and secrecy offenses. This included an offense of current or former Australian officers communicating information obtained by virtue of their position likely to cause harm to the nation’s interests. This offense is punishable by imprisonment for seven years. If the information is security classified or the person held a security classification, then they may have committed an “aggravated offense” and be subject to ten years’ imprisonment.

The raids also reveal just how common it is for public interest journalism to rely on secret material and government sources. But the journalists themselves may also be facing criminal prosecution. The 2018 changes include a “general secrecy offense,” whereby it is an offense (punishable by imprisonment for five years) to communicate classified information obtained from an Australian public servant. Fordham’s radio broadcast about intercepted boat arrivals was, for example, a clear communication of classified information.

Again, journalists are offered some protection. If prosecuted, a journalist can seek to rely on the “journalism defense” by proving that they dealt with the information as a journalist and that they reasonably believed the communication to be in the public interest. The meaning of “public interest” in this context is unclear and untested, but it would take into account the public interest in national security and government integrity secrecy concerns as well as openness and accountability.


Protecting media freedom

Australia has more national security laws than any other nation. It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights or other foundational document that would protect media freedom through, for example, rights to free speech and privacy.
In this context, journalists are in a precarious position—particularly journalists engaged in public interest journalism. Their work is vital to government accountability and a vibrant democracy, but it has a tense relationship with how Australia’s government conceives of national interests.

National security laws have severely undercut source confidentiality by increasing and easing data surveillance. They have also criminalized a wide array of conduct related to the handling of sensitive government information, both by government officers and the general public. And these laws are just a few parts of a much larger national security framework that includes control orders, preventative detention orders, ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organization) questioning and detention warrants, secret evidence, and offenses of espionage, foreign interference, advocating or supporting terrorism, and more.

JIWs and the inclusion of a journalism defense to the secrecy offense recognize the importance of a free press. However, each of these protections relies on a public interest test. When government claims of national security and the integrity of classifications are weighed into this balance, it is difficult to see how other interests might provide an effective counterbalance.

One of the most disturbing outcomes is not the potential prosecutions or even the raids themselves, but the chilling of public interest journalism. Sources are less likely to come forward if they face risk to themselves and a high likelihood of identification by government agencies. And journalists are less likely to run stories if they know the risks posed to their sources and perhaps even to themselves.

Against this background, the calls for a Media Freedom Act by groups such as the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom have gained significant traction. It may take this kind of bold statement to cut across the complexities of individual laws and both recognize and protect the basic freedom of the press and the future of public interest journalism in Australia. ❶


Rebecca Ananian-Welsh is a senior lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

The journalist hostage


by Charles Pomeroy

On Christmas Eve of 1991, Andy Adams (Sumo World), Don Kirk (USA Today), and Club President David Powers (BBC), raise their champagne glasses to Terry Anderson, the Chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) who had just been released after almost seven years in captivity as a hostage. The former active FCCJ member, serving both as 2nd and 1st Vice-President, was taken hostage by Muslim extremists in Lebanon on March 16, 1985. He would return to the Club in July of 1992 to recount his experience to our members.

Born in Ohio in 1947, Terry Anderson, who served as a US Marine Corps combat journalist, including two tours in Vietnam, graduated from Iowa State University in 1974 with degrees in journalism and political science prior to joining the AP. His career in that organization took him to various countries, including Japan and Korea. He was an enthusiastic participant in Club affairs. Nine references in the Index of the Club’s history book provide glimpses of his activities, including his harrowing coverage of Korea’s Kwangju rebellion. He became the AP’s Chief Middle East correspondent in 1983. He also became the longest held of almost a dozen Americans hostages seized by Hezbollah extremists in Lebanon at the time. When asked in an interview after his release how he had survived, he replied, “You just do what you have to do. You wake up every day and summon up energy from somewhere, and you get through the day, day after day after day.”

Post-release, Terry has led a busy life, writing a memoir of his hostage experience (Den of Lions), participating in talk shows, and teaching journalism at well-known universities. A lawsuit resulting in a multimillion-dollar settlement from frozen assets of the Iranian government, which had supported Hezbollah, also launched him into philanthropic activities. These included co-founding a non-profit organization to provide education for children in Vietnam as well as creating a foundation in the name of a fellow hostage of the Hezbollah. His one stab at politics, in which he ran as a Democrat in a Republican stronghold, ended in defeat in 2004.

Terry Anderson is now retired in Florida, where he leads a quiet life in the town of Unionville in Orange County.

– Charles Pomeroy
editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan,
a history of the Club that is available at the front desk

The disappearance of a sorely needed medium


by Andrew Pothecary

WE ARE LIVING IN an age when the president of the US—commonly, if dubiously, called “the leader of the free world”—says he would like people to admire him as the North Korean people do Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of a dictatorship. When in Britain, the lead candidate to head the governing party and become prime minister has been previously caught conspiring to have a journalist beaten up and has been demoted in government, sacked from a newspaper and even faced a court summons for his lies. When populist leaders from India to Brazil bathe in praise often of their own making.

Then, last month, the New York Times decided to completely stop all political cartoons. Yes, they can go too far, as did one cartoon they published in April that strayed into anti-semitism. It crossed the line of “speaking truth to power” and into an area where the power of previous cartooning had removed truths. While aiming to show Israel’s influence on President Trump, it pictured Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog leading a blind president—only Trump was wearing a yarmulke, suggesting he had converted to Judaism, not Israeli politics. 

Yes, the idea of Jews as dogs has an appalling history. But that’s what editing is for—to guide, change or cut. The failure of an editorial staff to do its job should not be a reason for a blanket stop on publishing anything, including cartoons.

The art of the political cartoon lies in the ability to summarize an issue, to burst established bubbles and expose underlying intentions and characteristics. As UK cartoonist Martin Towson wrote after the Times’ decision, political cartoons have “the power to shock and offend. That, largely, is what they’re there for, as a kind of dark, sympathetic magic masquerading as a joke.”

We don’t have a cartoonist in Number 1 Shimbun. But there is a reason that the Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who had exiled himself to Japan, made our front cover in February 2015: he was concerned for his safety and freedom if he continued making cartoons in China. 

02-2  02-3  02-4


At times, however, our covers have used a thought process similar to that of a political cartoonist—such as the November 2015 cover of the Asahi Shimbun folded into a paper boat and bombed; the start of the 2017’s Year of the Rooster referencing the strutting nature of the US president in cartoonish form (with extra double meaning); or a visual comment about the safety of Japan’s new seawalls on the March 2016 cover.

Our Trump cover was not necessarily universally liked. To some extent that is the effect of a political cartoonist. The power of a good piece of art might test the boundaries of lampooning those in power. Or, perhaps, the boundaries of social-media voices, which can gather individually to express a collective outrage. 

The cartoonists of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo can get too close for comfort on issues of racism or religious freedom—even occasionally cross the line, some might justifiably argue. But their aim is to nonviolently burst the bubbles of power and the powerful with their art, not to be part of a world where five of their staff can be slaughtered in their offices for their views.

At a time when many hundreds of thousands of people are marching in Hong Kong, some hoisting placards of the city’s Chief Executive pictured as a devil, and many protesters in the UK are competing to make the most pertinent and pithy placard about politicians and Brexit, it seems exactly the wrong time to be stopping political cartoons. If anything, they—as any medium seeking to challenge opaque and misused power—are needed more than ever. 

– Andrew Pothecary

Andrew Pothecary is the art director of Number 1 Shimbun.

New in the Library


Tokyo Ueno Station

Yu Miri; Morgan Giles (trans.)
Tilted Axis Press

Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America
Weijian Shan
John Wiley & Sons
Gift from Naoya Nakata

Jimaku no Hanazono
Natsuko Toda
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Keep on Dreaming: Toda Natsuko
Natsuko Toda; Yuko Kaneko
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Notes on a Life: Coppola Family no Sugao
Eleanor Coppola; Natsuko Toda (trans.)
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Japan Rearmed: the Politics of Military Power
Sheila A. Smith
Harvard University Press

The Rise and Fall of Modern Japanese Literature

John Whittier Treat
The University of Chicago Press


New Members



YE SHAN is an English-language correspondent with China’s Xinhua News Agency, where she is currently in charge of reporting on Japan’s political and economic stories for the agency’s Tokyo bureau. Prior to this posting, she was an editor at the English desk of the International News Department in Beijing since 2015. She majored in English and International Communications and has also studied Japanese.



Nobuyuki Kataoka, Kinyobi, Co., Ltd.



Akiko Kashiwagi, The Washington Post


Alfred Moufarrige, Servcorp Ltd.
Dan Underwood, Ashton Consulting Limited
Hironobu Endo, Dentsu Ad-Gear Inc.
Akihiko Fukazawa, Homat Homes, Ltd.
Akiko Kanno, ELGC K.K.
Makoto Takahashi, ELGC K.K.
Satoshi Nakano, Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association
Kazutaka Okubo, Ernst & Young Shinnihon LLC
Izumi Okoshi, Dentsu Inc.
Masanao Tomozoe, Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd.


Gozabune: Sunset Cruise


The evening of May 5 saw FCCJ members board a luxurious replica of the shogun’s pleasure ship, the Gozabune Atekemaru, for
a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay.

The original was built by the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, in the early 17th century, and its opulent design and regal decor was compared at the time to the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. Thanks to the Special Projects Committee for arranging the very unique event. Cruises are regularly scheduled, and the ship is also available for charter.






Join the Film Committee. . .


…on Wed., June 19 at 6:45 pm for 5 Million Dollar Life, which poses the question “Just how much is life really worth?” For Mirai Takatsuki (played with gusto by Ayumu Mochizuki), it took $5 million in donations to cover his medical bills and keep him alive. Eleven years later, his miraculous recovery is still TV news, and his mother continues to promise that Mirai will pay everyone back by living up to their expectations. But the 17-year-old has had enough of the pressure. In despair, he decides to commit suicide – until a stranger texts him that he has no right to take his own life until he returns the $5 million. So Mirai sets out to do just that. What begins as a familiar-seeming journey with echoes of the teen suicide/coming-of-age/road movie genres, then expands into something completely unexpected, constantly surprising and ultimately, transformative. First-time feature director Sungho Moon will join us for the Q&A session after the screening with Mochizuki.

(Japan, 2019; 112 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles.)

– Karen Severns


KnK Photo Exhibition

Class Rooms: Places to spend time as a child. 

By Kyo Shimizu

KnK (Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi: Children without Borders) is an NGO that supports children and schools in a number of locations around the world. These photographs by Kyo Shimizu are of children, classrooms and school commutes at KnK missions in Palestine, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Syrian refugee camps, Tohoku and beyond. ❶

Kyo Shimizu, born in Tokyo in 1970, has been helping children for 20 years and expanded his work to become an award-winning photographer of humanitarian issues in 2016. He has worked for KnK Japan since 2003.


Concentrating without noticing my camera, Kohistan, Pakistan, 2010


A girl lights a candle to continue studying after a power outage, in a KnK Home, India, 2005

Lens craft


“Twilight Flow”
Jiufen, Taiwan.
by Stirling Elmendorf


Lenses aft
Photographers await the first public appearance of the new emperor, April 4.
by Albert Siegel


Spring is in the air
PM Shinzo Abe (along with his security personnel) runs to greet his guests at a cherry-blossom viewing party. Shinjukugyoen, Tokyo, April 13.
by Yoshikazu Tsuno

Faking ourselves to death


The author of a new book says the quality of reporting in Japan under the Abe government is in dangerous decline.

By David McNeill

Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect in January 2017 set the discordant tone for the two years to follow. The hour-long encounter with a sullen media corps was seasoned with Trump’s now familiar insults and sleights of hand. 

A stack of folders on a nearby podium was “proof” that he had divested his business interests to ensure no conflict of interest. Claims that Russia had helped send Trump to the White House, or had compromising information on his exotic sexual peccadillos, were a “pile of garbage.” Obamacare was a “complete and total disaster.” CNN reporter Jim Acosta was told to be quiet when he tried to ask a question. “You are fake news,” said Trump, eyeing him with contempt.

It was entertaining stuff. Many voters, after all, had dispatched Trump to Washington in anticipation of these bad-tempered showdowns with the “libtard” media. For Japan-watchers, however, the event was thin gruel. Apart from a single non-sequitur at the end, when Japan was cited – along with Russia, China and Mexico – as countries that had “taken total advantage” economically of America, there was no mention of its closest Pacific ally. 

So when Yoichiro Tateiwa watched the Japanese media’s take the following day, he was astonished to see banner headlines about a looming trade war. “They read: ‘Trump criticized Japan for trade issues,’” Tateiwa says. “But I wondered: Did he even mention Japan? I had to go back and check the record.”

Tateiwa is a former NHK staff reporter who left the broadcaster in 2016 to take up a fellowship at the American University in Washington. He has just written a book, Toranpu Houdou no Feiku to Fakkuto (Fact and Fakery in Media Coverage of Trump, Kamogawa Shuppan, 2019) that draws on his comparative knowledge of media systems in both countries. He believes the Japanese reporters took their cue not from the actual press conference, but from Yoshihide Suga, the government’s chief cabinet secretary. “The political reporters asked Suga what the Japanese stance was and Suga said: ‘This trade issue is serious and we have to discuss it,’” says Tateiwa. In other words, Suga single-handedly spun the story that Trump’s election meant trouble for Japan.



THAT’S WORRYING ENOUGH, BUT it indicates a bigger problem, says Tateiwa: stories in the Japanese media often do not name their sources. Or source, since many important stories are propped up by a single anonymous voice in the government. That’s a recipe for manipulation, he warns.

American political journalism has hardly covered itself in glory either, given how it was hoodwinked over calamitous wars in the Middle East. Tateiwa agrees, but says journalists there have become more careful. As evidence, he cites the Washington Post’s scoop on alleged Russian meddling in Trump’s election and the role of Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor. “The newspaper confirmed with nine former government officials who had access to the records of conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador (in 2016),” he says. “The Japanese media doesn’t do that.”

Elite spin is most evident in the media’s coverage of North Korea, says Tateiwa. When Kim Jong Un agreed to meet Trump in Singapore last June, Japanese officials fretted that prematurely rewarding Kim for coming to the negotiating table could leave the North’s missiles pointed at Japan. And would the quixotic Trump grill Kim about Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s, a particular priority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? Someone in the Abe government decided that journalists needed a carrot, says Tateiwa. Up popped a story on Fuji TV claiming without evidence that far from being diplomatically shoved aside, Japan had in fact facilitated the Trump-Kim meeting. “I was like, really?” says Tateiwa, laughing. 

After Singapore, a nervous looking Abe spoke briefly to the local press, warning that the abductions would have to be solved by Japan alone, seemingly confirming that the issue was a very low priority for Trump. The next day, almost the entire Japanese media ran the story that Trump had in fact discussed the abduction issue with Kim, who had ‘responded positively.’ The sources for this claim were anonymous. “Given what Abe said the night before, I really doubt that conversation took place,” says Tateiwa.

“SOMEONE WAS MANIPULATING THE media,” he continues. “I suspect it was one person who was the source on North Korea – and they don’t name him. He tells reporters: ‘I can tell you what Trump really said to Abe – that the abduction issue is very important and he is open to dialogue.’ We know it is a lie but . . . .”

“The stories are attributed to a ‘source close to the Japan-US relationship’ or ‘someone in the US government,’ Tateiwa says. “You cannot just say ‘someone in the American government – there is no ‘American government!’ It should be ‘someone related to the White House’, or ‘someone in the State Department.’ 

Tateiwa says even the “liberal” Japanese media swallow the most unlikely stories when it comes to Pyongyang. He cites one Asahi TV report in 2017 claiming that the American military was preparing for a conventional attack because the North “would not retaliate.” 

“I was stunned because what the secretary of defense [James Mattis] said was completely different,” he says. The conventional wisdom on all sides was that any attempt to dislodge the Kim regime by force risked setting off a ruinous conventional war that would destroy Seoul, about 40km south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. “Now Japanese TV was saying that the US forces had entirely changed their stance by preparing for a pinpoint attack,” says Tateiwa. “Nobody in America ran that, so it was clearly coming from a Japanese source. Again, somebody in the government was tipping the media. And the way the Japanese media uses sources it could almost be anyone.”

AS EVGENY MOROZOV, AUTHOR of Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, has pointed out, there’s nothing new about exaggerated or fabricated news. False stories helped goad America into war with Spain in 1898; faked reports of Iraqi troops yanking babies from incubators in Kuwait in 1990 and the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” provided the rationale for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But fake news has recently been turbo-charged by at least three factors: the Internet and the digital monopolies that dominate it, the erosion of journalistic resources and standards, and a mass cynicism about public institutions, including the media. The timing was perfect for the rise of an unscrupulous political huckster. 

At least, according to Tateiwa, most journalists in the United States are onto Trump. “Here, nobody knows who is spreading the fake news,” he says. “And what is worse is that the reporters here believe they are doing a good job. But they are being manipulated and used. There is far less transparency in this country, so I think the situation here is more serious.”

Reporters are part of the deception, he says. Abe, for example, “is rarely caught saying anything stupid” because the questions are sent to him before each encounter with the media. “The reporters like that too: sending the question in advance means they can prepare their stories before the press conference even starts. That’s what they call good journalism.”

Tateiwa’s solutions are as straightforward as they are difficult to achieve. He says reporters must be trained to fact check and seek out multiple sources. He has founded an NPO called FactCheck Initiative Japan for this purpose, and is writing a new book on the subject. He also wants more US-style journalism courses taught in Japan. “I’m not saying that American journalism is good – they’ve failed a thousand times. But they do investigative journalism there and they have to use sources in a more precise way – they have to keep digging for their stories, otherwise people say it is fake news.” 

The alternative is that Japanese newspapers and TV keep being used by the government. “So long as they keep doing what they are doing, any type of politician can manipulate the press.” ❶

David McNeill writes for the Irish Times and the Economist and teaches media and politics at Hosei University.
Yoichiro Tateiwa at the Club in 2018



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