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Blog   |   Japan

The high price of writing about the Japanese mafia

"In life, we only encounter the injustices we were meant to correct."
-Igari Toshiro, ex-prosecutor, leading lawyer in the anti-organized crime movement in Japan (1949-2010)

Igari Toshiro was my lawyer, my mentor, and my friend. In the sixteen years I've been covering organized crime in Japan, I've never met anyone more courageous or inspiring--or anyone who looked as much like a pit-bull in human form.

October 8, 2010 11:05 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Japanese press advocates face 50 lawsuits, broken ribs

Nishioka (CPJ)

Kensuke Nishioka, 42, looked different from the other Japanese journalists I encountered in Tokyo during a February trip. Maybe it was the pink hair. “Don’t believe any journalist who says they’re at risk in Japan,” he declared, shrugging off the time, at age 32, when two members of a nationalist group cornered him in his office, broke his ribs, and injured three others in protest against an article he wrote. (Police arrested and charged the attackers.) Or the following year when the Japanese mafia, the yakuza, kidnapped him for a day and threatened him to stop reporting.

March 9, 2010 5:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Japanese journalist-turned-lawyer fights media control

Hizumi (CPJ)Kazuo Hizumi holds his hands up before him, shoulder-width apart. He is demonstrating the size of the blade he kept under his pillow when sleeping at the bureau in his days as a rookie reporter in Osaka in 1987. The journalism community was still reeling from a shooting attack on Asahi Shimbun’s Osaka bureau the month before, which had left one writer injured and another, Tomohiro Kojiri, killed. No one was prosecuted for that murder and the statute of limitations for initiating legal proceedings has passed. 
March 2, 2010 12:15 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

'Erase it, or be erased': Life on a Japanese mafia hit list

  As a writer from 1993 to 2005 at Japan’s Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, Jake Adelstein built up a network of police, yakuza, and media contacts. (CPJ) A polite man in a suit gave investigative reporter Jake Adelstein the message from a leader of one of Japan’s organized crime groups when he was first working on the story back in 2005: “Erase it, or be erased.” Adelstein backed off, but he didn’t stop researching Tadamasa Goto, a thuggish leader of the Japanese mafia, or yakuza. The second time, there was no message. In 2008, it was Adelstein’s sources who informed him his relentless inquiries had crossed a line. Don’t go home, they told him—Adelstein is originally from Missouri—America would not be far enough.
February 24, 2010 9:49 AM ET

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Blog   |   Belgium, CPJ, Colombia, Egypt, Japan, Kenya

CPJ launches yearly findings globally, and is heard

Joel Simon at CPJ's Japan launch of Attacks on the Press. (Reuters)

On February 16, CPJ held an ambitious international launch of our annual report Attacks on the Press. We coordinated events in six cities on four continents in order to expand the reach of our international headlines while also focusing on specific issues in each region. So how did we do?

February 23, 2010 12:03 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan, Philippines

Citizen journalist helped report Philippine massacre

“The e-mail came in at 8.48 p.m.,” Philippine journalist Maria Ressa told a hushed audience at CPJ’s panel discussion, Press Freedom: On the Frontlines and Online, this morning at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo. She was describing how the first photo from the November massacre in Maguindanao province reached the mainstream Philippine media. Thirty-two journalists and media workers were slaughtered in the deadliest single attack that CPJ has ever recorded.

February 16, 2010 11:28 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Press freedom, new media in Tokyo

CPJ’s six-city launch of Attacks on the Press began today in Tokyo, where we hosted a panel discussion with Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN TV in the Philippines, Asahi Shimbun deputy foreign editor Nobuyoshi Sakajiri, NHK Middle East correspondent Nobuhisa Degawa, CPJ China expert Madeline Earp, and me.

February 16, 2010 8:56 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Japanese journalists under pressure: Kisha Clubs and stress

Fujimoto (CPJ)

Katsuya Fujimoto and Shuichi Yutaka, the general secretary and the president of Shinbun Roren, the Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions, sit at a table in their office in Tokyo’s Bunkyo-ku district amid a pile of papers. A software engineer with a media company and a journalist, each on two years’ leave, they are shuffling through documents showing their organization’s efforts to reform the Kisha Club system I wrote about yesterday

Blog   |   China, Japan

Feng Zhenghu home safe after Kafkaesque exile in Japan

A scrum of reporters met Feng at the Shanghai airport. (Isaac Mao)Journalists, friends, and supporters of Feng Zhenghu, who I interviewed in Tokyo on Monday as he was about to end his involuntary exile in Japan, have been making full use of the Internet to document his arrival home in Shanghai’s Pudong Airport this afternoon.

February 12, 2010 11:15 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Japanese investigative reporter challenges Kisha system

Terasawa says his relations with police are "like warfare." (CPJ) Yu Terasawa seems philosophical as he discusses plans for his fourth lawsuit against the Japanese state, which he says he plans to initiate next week. Lawsuits are a part of daily life for Terasawa, who has been at the forefront of Japan’s investigative journalism community for almost 20 years as a freelance reporter specializing in police corruption. He has lost three cases of his own, been sued and has countersued in response, and has settled out of court. He is fighting for things many journalists take for granted: The right to attend a press conference, cover court proceedings, and above all, tell the truth.

February 11, 2010 4:52 PM ET

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