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Jan 22, 2013

[Mr. Ryusaku Tanaka] Environment Minister Ishihara Avoids Appointing Reporter Who Grills Him at Press Conference

It is Mr. Yoshiki Kamide that is the reporter in the news.  I’d like to remember his name.  Just the sight of his picture makes me find that he is a fine person.

Masatoshi Takeshita
January 17, 2013

English translation of a Japanese article: Ryusaku Tanaka Journal – January 15, 2013 –

Environment Minister Ishihara Avoids Appointing Reporter Who Grills Him at Press Conference

Environment Minister Isihara who has difficulty in
 answering a question of a freelancer
In the Environment Ministry on 15th morning.  Photo by Tanaka

Government agencies ignore distasteful questions in collusion with politicians.  The press club that usually brandishes the public’s right to know won’t make an issue of it.

At the time of the LDP government (until 2009 when the JDP took power) press conferences held with ministers were controlled by the administration due to the cozy relations between the administration and the media.  After the LDP took back the power, a press conference in the Environment Ministry seems to be returning to the original state: it was open to the public.

It is reflected by the response of the Environment Ministry and Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara over the “slipshod clean-up work” reported by the Asahi Shimbun in its morning paper on 4th.

A reporter of the Asahi Shimbun with an aim to write a sequel repeatedly raised his hand at a press conference on 11th.  However, he was never appointed.  It would be the case with a freelancer, but the reporter is a member of the press club.  It is apparently abnormal that he was not chosen as a questioner.

The Environment Ministry budgeted one trillion 108.8 billion yen as the clean-up expenses for 2012 alone.  If “sloppy work” is found in a project which a lot of money has been invested in, the Environment Ministry is to be blamed for it.  The Environment Minister, chief executive, is naturally placed in a more difficult situation.

For the public relations office, a facilitator of a press conference (in charge of appointing reporters), and the ministry, it is “crisis management” not to make reporters inquire about the slipshod clean-up issue.

The public relations office has an instinctive character that “they should protect the minister.”

“You stand in the between the minister office and the reporter (of Asahi).  You’re in a tough situation, aren’t you?” this writer asked the public relations office chief such a leading question.  “Can’t you understand?” he said while scratching his head.

Strangely, other press club members never care that a colleague has been ignored.  It cannot be helped if a reporter is not appointed next time when the reporter wants to grill the minister. What misfortune befalls on others today might happen to them tomorrow.  It is not too much to say that the cozy relations among government agencies, politicians and the press club have prevented the public from knowing truth.

Mr. Yoshiki Kamide, a freelancer, opened a crack in this at today’s press conference.  “Although a reporter of Asahi desperately raised his hand at the previous press conference, he was not appointed.  Minister Ishihara seemed to avoid doing so.  The minister should achieve accountability for the public.” Reporter Kamide grilled him.

Minister Ishihara unconvincingly explained himself, saying “I have to answer questions of many reporters within limited time frame.  I have a sense of crisis toward CO2 issue.”  He just repeated empty phrases in pain because he was stuck for an answer.

He himself says “I have to answer questions of many reporters.”  Then, why did he exclude the reporter of Asahi alone?

 “The minister should achieve accountability.”  Yoshiki Kamide, a freelancer, (person on the left with a microphone) grills Mr. Ishihara.  = Photo by Tanaka =

A reporter of NHK, the coordinator of the press club, asked a question, using the word “improper clean-up” not “slipshod clean-up.”  He said “As for the slipshod clean-up work issue, have you found another improper clean-up work after questioning subcontractors?”

Minister Ishihara answered: “Clean-up work is the foundation of reconstruction.  ………… We will work out a policy after carefully examining whether there has been improper clean-up work or not.”  It appears that the press club coordinator asked the minister a question which he was able to answer confidently.

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