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Shigeaki Koga “Battles” With An Anchor Ichiro Furutachi During a Live News Show

img14816_150327-09abe1-e1427681527918During a live broadcast of Hodo Station on March 27, commentator Shigeaki Koga talked about allegations that TV Asahi will stop asking him to appear on the show due to pressure from executives who wish to curry favor with the Abe administration. He talked about the allegations during a segment in which he was supposed to talk about the on-going air strikes in Yemen. Koga even mentioned that he was willing to release an audio recording of a conversation between him and Frutachi in the green room, which he secretly recorded. Koga claims that the recording demonstrates that even Furutachi understands that political pressure is the reason why Koga will no longer be invited to appear on Hodo Station. After the broadcast was over at 11 pm on Friday of last week, Japanese media reported the incident with headlines such as “Koga Hijacks Hodo Station,” “ Koga Picks Fight with Furutachi on Live Broadcast,” and “Koga Conducts Suicide Bomb Attack, Dragging Hodo Station with Him.” While there are people who applauded Koga’s courage, some people criticized his actions, such as journalist Shoko Egawa who tweeted that Koga had missed an important opportunity to convey his opinion about important issues to the public in order to engage in personal retaliation. Another journalist and former editorial chief of Japanese Newsweek Keigo Takeda tweeted that Koga does not understand the responsibility and duty that comes with being asked to offer expert opinions on TV. After the broadcast of March 27th’s Hodo Station, TV Asahi’s public relations department released an official comment as follows, “we broadcast the news that we believe should be conveyed to our viewers. We feel deep regret that Mr. Koga expressed his personal opinions and made comments that are not fully based on facts. We apologize that the disturbance was seen live on the show.”

Right after the show was over, Koga gave an interview to journalist Yasumi Iwakami. In the interview, Koga mentioned that he made his statements on Hodo Station in order to protest Kantei’s pressure on him.

Below is the transcript of the “battle” segment between Furutachi and Koga.

Furutachi: [On the news from Yemen] In Yemen, there is a situation where the US is trying to work with Iran, which is an option that we have never conceived of before. However, Saudi Arabia is playing an important role as well.

Koga: Yes. That’s right. But, before I talk about it, I would like to say a few words about my last appearance on this show today. Due to the wishes of the CEOs of TV Asahi (Mr. Hayakawa) and Furutachi Productions (Mr. Sato), today is my last appearance on this show. I have been bashed by people like Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga at the Kantei, but I received encouragements that outweigh the bashings. Because of this encouragement, I have truly enjoyed my appearances on this show until today. I would like to express gratitude from the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much. Now, …

Furutachi: Please, hold on,  Mr. Koga.

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Koga: Yes. Only one hour left for me…

Furutachi: Mr. Koga, please hold on.

Koga: Yes.

Furutachi: I must say that I cannot agree with what you have just said.

Koga: Yes.

Furutachi: Well, on Fridays…

Koga: Yes.

Furutachi: You have appeared on this show from time to time on Fridays, and I have appreciated it as I have learned a lot from you. This show is going to change in April, and I would still like you to appear if there is a chance and there is a project that suits you.

Koga: Oh, I really appreciate that.

Furutachi: Now,

Koga: If what you have just said is real, then I really appreciate it.

Furutachi: If you think that you will never be invited by TV Asahi again, I think you are wrong.

Koga: But, Mr. Furutachi, you said that you feel so bad that you could not do anything to save me from ending up like this.

Furutachi: Yes. That was in the green room a while ago, and I mentioned that I feel sorry that if this show is not going the direction that you want it to go.

Koga: That’s not …

Furutachi: I still believe so.

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Koga: No, I…

Furutachi: But, what you have just said is wrong, too extreme.

Koga: I recorded everything. If you agree, I will release everything that I recorded.

Furutachi: Okay, and I will release everything as well, Mr. Koga.

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Koga: Yes. That’s fine.

Furutachi: Yes. So, let’s put this aside. I don’t think this is true.

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Koga: Okay.

Furutachi: Now, may we have your opinions on Yemen and the involvement by the US?

Koga: Right now, Yemen is in an extremely complicated situation. It has been like an explosive warehouse, and the potential for a big explosion has always been there. Yet, people have only recently started talking about it being a big problem. There is a sect, called the Houthis, that is supported by Iran. If Yemen was ruled by the Houthis, it would be a serious problem for Saudi Arabia and the US. Some important background is needed. From the perspective of the US, Saudi Arabia is the just actor, the side of the conflict that is right. I think that Saudi Arabia is not a democratic country at all, and the human rights abuses committed in Saudi Arabia should be an issue for the international community. The human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are seen as a very big problem in the Europe as well. If this were to happen in Syria, the US would condemn it a lot, but since it is in Saudi Arabia, the US will not condemn it. American justice is Saudi Arabian justice. The Japanese people simply believe that Saudi Arabia is America’s friend and America is Saudi Arabia’s friend. This is how Abe thinks as well. This brings the Japanese people to think that helping Saudi Arabia is the right thing to do. That it serves justice. But, like I said, the very meaning of justice has become riddled with double standards. We need to be mindful about the meaning of justice when we consider what role Japan should play in the current situation in the Middle East. We should not naïvely believe that the US and Saudi Arabia are the same so that Japan must support Saudi Arabia. Right now, Japan is taking a careful and reserved stance towards the situation in Yemen. I would like Japan to continue to take this stance.

Furutachi: I understand that we need to take a measured approach and try to observe from a distance this extremely complicated situation. Now, we will move to the next topic…

The show then covered news of a terrorist attack on a museum in Tunisia as well as news that the Vice Secretary General Takamura of the Liberal Democratic Party announced he would pass revisions to a series of security laws and keep the Parliament convened until US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visits Japan. If the revisions to the security laws are adopted by the Parliament, Japan will be able to exercise a right to collective self defense.

Furutachi: How do you view the news about the movements by the parliament [on security issues] and the parliament overall?

Koga: Yes. Right now, Japanese diplomacy and security are about to change at a fundamental level. But, we don’t know the content of these changes very well. Moreover, the bills are not passed yet. In a situation where debate has not even finished within the parliament, the Abe administration is trying to go forward, in the direction of approving the use of right to collective self-defense. Before debate in the parliament has finished, Abe is planning to go to the US and make promises. [Prime Minister Abe is going to visit the US between April 26 and May 3.]

These moves are outrageous if you think it over very well. But for some reason, the have not led to objections from the parliament or the media. I personally think that this situation is very odd. By the way, it is not that the parliament is talking only about whether Japan will wage war or not. Mr. Abe calls the current parliamentary session as the “Achieving Reform Parliament.” He claims that he is determined to work on reforms in many policy areas. But, there are no real plans to reform corporate regulations. For example, on agriculture, he is working on reform of the Japan agricultural association (JA). When he first started taking about the reform of JA, he seemed to be determined. But after he realized that he needed the political support of local agricultural associations to win elections, he noticed that he cannot deregulate JA much. As for reforms of the medical industry, he is working on it, but only a little bit. In terms of reform of electric power, he represses the use of alternative energy sources and promotes the use of nuclear power. To me, this looks like he is merely being a puppet of the “nuclear village.” It seems to me that Mr. Abe is not working on the things listed above wholeheartedly. But, there are things that he is working on seriously. (showing a placard)

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Koga: And here are the list of things that Prime Minister Abe is working on seriously. I will talk about the three ideal images of the country that he is pursuing. First, a leading exporter of nuclear power and technology. Abe is selling nuclear technologies to other countries on his overseas visits. It has been successful. Second, a leading exporter of armaments. In April last year, he abolished the Three Basic Rules, which prohibited the exportation of armaments. This has been surprisingly successful as well.

Next, a leading country for gambling. He is trying to pass a Casino Bill. Gambling was abolished due to lots of opposition, but there are still forces primarily within the Liberal Democratic Party that are trying to make this happen. When I see policies like these, I am reminded of his speech where he invoked the Meiji era when the Japanese people were aiming to join the great powers. Abe praised the Japanese people of the Meiji era. I was so surprised that he used the phrase, “great powers.” When I talked about this with some close advisors of the Abe administration, they said that it was inappropriate. I wonder what kind of the county is the “Beautiful Country” that Mr. Abe referring to. Then, what kind of country should we be aiming to become?img14815_150327-08frip21-e1427681762733

Koga: This is my opinion, but I think that many Japanese people agree with this. I think Japan should become a leading country of alternative energy, but not a leading exporter of nuclear energy. I also think that instead of leading nuclear technology exporter, Japan should become a leading country to spread the norm of pacifism. I would like Japan to become  a leading cultural influence around the world. When I look at this, I notice again that what most of Japanese people want and what Prime Minister Abe want are different. I will describe it by saying “I am not ABE.” I have said this previously and was criticized for it. And even today, while we spoke. But, I think that we should not repress our opinions just because they are criticized. With this background, I made this banner by myself, because I did not want cause trouble for the staff of TV Asahi by asking them to create it for me. (showing a banner that says “I am not ABE”)

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Koga: This is not just a simple criticism of Prime Minister Abe. (puts the banner away) I showed this banner because I would like it to be one of the things that Japanese people think about when they decide how to live their lives. I don’t mind people criticizing the idea. I would like the public debate this idea, even when they criticize it. Of course, I assume that the Kantei will criticize it in various ways, but I would like the Kantei not to say bad about me behind my back. I sincerely would like Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga come to me and criticize me in person, since I think he is probably watching this show right now.

Furutachi: I admit that many of your opinions resonate with me.

Koga: Yes.

Furutachi:However, I would like to make this one point clear.

Koga: Yes.

Furutachi: While I admit that the media is imperfect and often too tame, in this show, we covered Sendai Nuclear Power Plant few days ago.

Koga: That’s great.

Furutachi: We covered people’s concerns about more earthquakes.

Koga: Yes. That’s wonderful.

Furutachi: On March 11….

Koga: I saw it.

Furutachi: On the four year anniversary of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, we covered recent news about there being no place to put the waste from nuclear reactors.

Koga: That’s right.

Furutachi: We broadcasted critical news …. The problems with Henoko in Okinawa.

Koga: That’s right.

Furutachi:We broadcasted that the problems with Henoko which involves the US Navy’s ambitions in Northern Part of Okinawa.

Koga: Yes. I tweeted it yesterday.

Furutachi: We have worked on news stories like that.

Koga: I tweeted the link to the video of the news of Henoko to recommend it to people since I thought the video was great. I received a lot of responses from people who saw it. However, we should note another important fact about the video, which is that the producer who made it is going to be demoted.

Furutachi: I don’t think that’s true.

Koga: Yes. It is true.

Furutachi: I don’t know about human resources issues…

Koga: Yes, you know it.

Furutachi: I think it is just a change of position, not a demotion. Let’s stop talking about this.

Koga: Yes. Let’s stop talking about this. I will stop.

Furutachi: I think people who are watching this will be confused.

Furutachi: Ok.

Koga: (Showing a placard) Here are the things that Abe administration is working on right now.

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[this is what is written on the display, but was not able to talk about them]

1. Reinstatement of nuclear energy — repressing alternative energy, promote nuclear energy.

2. Reinstatement of the bureaucrats — many retired bureaucrats hired as a tops of public financial organizations, revitalization of Amakudari [the revolving door between government and private firms].

3. Reform of public companies scaled back — eliminating the schedule for privatization of Developmental Bank of Japan, Inc. and Shoko Chukin Bank.

Furutachi: Mr. Koga. We are running out of time.

Koga: Uh, I hoped you wouldn’t say something like that.

Furutachi: No. Uh… please don’t do this.

Koga: Just, please let me say this as the one last thing.

Furutachi: Okay, okay, okay.

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Koga: I would like to say this quote by Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Furutachi. “Most of what you do is insignificant, but you have to do them anyways. You are doing them not to change the world, but to make it so that the world can’t change you.”

That is to say, when you become accustomed to being pressured and repressing yourself, you will become reluctant to defy the authority. You come to think, even if you stand up just alone, you will face a bashing. You would rather not to do anything. Before you know it, you have been changed, and you don’t even realize even when critically important things are happening.”

I always tell these words to myself. I would like everybody to think about this quote. I regret that we ended up in a quarrel. All I wanted to say is that everybody should feel free to express what they want to say. Let’s just say it! But, I also appreciate the opinions of people who don’t agree with me. They are free to convey their opinions as frequently they want. I don’t mind even Mr. Furutachi saying that my opinions are wrong, if you think so. That’s not a problem for me, at all. But, I would just like for the authorities to stop pressuring me behind my back, and for the Kantei to stop making phone calls to complain about me.

Furutachi: Now, we will take a break for commercials.

(Source: http://kukkuri.jpn.org/boyakikukkuri2/log/eid1701.html).

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