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Kyodo Leads the Way in Irresponsible Reporting

Betraying readers, Kyodo, Asahi and other media misreported the "birth" comments of FM Kamikawa while ignoring the threats to Japan from China's ambassador. 



Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa speaks during the 10th trilateral foreign ministers' meeting in Busan, South Korea, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. (©Ahn Young-joon/Pool via REUTERS)

On May 18, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa addressed a gathering in Shizuoka City ahead of the Shizuoka Prefectural Governor election. Attempting to rally female supporters, she remarked, "Being governor is a role of immense responsibility. How can we call ourselves women if we do not bring (this candidate)'s administration into the world?" Following this, Kyodo News posted an article to its official X (formerly Twitter) account. The piece was titled, "Japan's Female Foreign Minister Queries Women's Worth Without Birth." 

Furthermore, the article suggested that Kamikawa had "equated the importance of childbirth to electing a new governor." It went on to say, "Kamikawa's aim appears to have been to encourage the election of a new governor. However, the lack of consideration for those women unable to give birth may invite criticism." Also, the English article stated that the minister compared giving birth to selecting a new governor, saying "How can we women call ourselves women without birthing this person."

Foreign Minister Kamikawa responds to supporters in Shizuoka City on the morning of May 19. (©Kyodo)

Media Bias and Public Response

Following this report, Asahi Shimbun, other newspapers, several television stations, and opposition party lawmakers, collectively condemned Kamikawa. They asserted that she implied that women who do not give birth are not truly women. That charge led to widespread misinterpretation of her remarks. 

However, a counterpoint also emerged on social media. In it, many SNS users contended that the Kyodo News report had misrepresented the situation to the public.

Kyodo's sensational title, diverging from the intended message, cleverly focuses on the gathering of female supporters. It selectively uses "this candidate" as its subject. Moreover, it manipulates perception by suddenly introducing women facing childbirth difficulties to launch a personal attack on the foreign minister. 

These arbitrary misinterpretations, unsubstantiated by the article's content, intentionally provoke negative emotions, which this author views as a clear ethical violation.

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao makes comments about Taiwan and threatens Japanese people at a roundtable discussion held at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo on May 20, 2024. (©Sankei by Tomo Kuwashima)

Flagrant Double Standards

Two days after Kamikawa's statement, the Chinese Ambassador to Japan commented on Japanese parliamentarians attending the inauguration ceremony of Taiwan's new president. He warned, "If Japan is tied to the tanks seeking to split China, its people will be dragged into the fire." In other words, he suggested the Chinese government would carry out heinous war crimes that endanger the lives of Japanese civilians.

Despite these egregious threats, Kyodo refrained from reporting them online until the Japanese government lodged a protest the following day. Asahi Shimbun even defended the Chinese government. The media outlet argued that the expression "into the fire" was a clumsy literal translation of the difficult term 火坑 (fire pit). However, it strains credulity to think that the ambassador, fluent in Japanese, would mistranslate the essence of his argument.

Certain newspapers twist and condemn the remarks of Japan's foreign minister, despite her lack of malice. On the other hand, the same media unnaturally brushes off and justifies the malicious comments made by China's ambassador. By manipulating perceptions of good and evil, these media betray the trust of their readers. 

About Kazue Fujiwara

Kazue Fujiwara, the author of this article, is a Blogger. She writes articles about current issues raised in media reports and political debates for monthly magazines and opinion sites. 


Read the article in Japanese. 

Author: Kazue Fujiwara