For anyone interested in Okinawa and the history of journalism in Japan, David Jacobson over at Japan Media Review has recently reported on a new lawsuit by a journalist who 30 years ago was slammed for uncovering a “secret pact” between the U.S. and Japan.
Disgraced Journalist Seeks to Revisit 30-year-old Scandal
More than 30 years later, a Japanese court is reconsidering an epoch-making media scandal that raised the question of whether unethical conduct by a reporter in obtaining the news should outweigh the significance of the facts he uncovered, no matter how earthshaking they might be.
The first oral hearing took place Tuesday in a suit brought by disgraced Mainichi Shimbun political reporter Takichi Nishiyama. Nishiyama, now 73, sued the government in April, claiming that it had destroyed his reputation. He seeks a government apology and 33 million yen (roughly $300,000) in damages.
The case concerns Nishiyama’s reporting on the negotiations between the United States and Japan over the reversion of the southernmost islands in the Japanese archipelago, Okinawa, to Japanese sovereignty (For a detailed chronology, see Wikipedia’s entry). Nishiyama uncovered documents in 1971 that revealed that Japan had secretly made a pact with the U.S. to absorb $4 million of the cost of returning Okinawa – which had been a U.S. protectorate since World War II – to Japan.
However, it was later learned that Nishiyama had obtained the documents through an affair with a married Foreign Ministry secretary. Both the secretary and Nishiyama were arrested, she for revealing state secrets and he for abetting her efforts. Each was convicted, though he appealed his case as far as the Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction.