JAPAN: EU attack on press club rebuffed

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association on Wednesday rebuffed the European Union's calls for the abolition of the press club system, claiming it plays an important role in disseminating news among the public

The Japan Times
Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association on Wednesday rebuffed the European Union's calls for the abolition of the press club system, claiming it plays an important role in disseminating news among the public.

"Each country has different systems and rules for covering news based on each country's historical background," the association said in a statement.

The association said the EU's proposals were "based on misunderstanding, biases and misperception of facts."

It added, however, that it would strive to make the press clubs more open to all reporters.

In October 2002 and again this year, the EU lambasted the "kisha club" system for restricting access to official news conferences to reporters from mostly mainstream domestic media organizations.

This practice leaves foreign reporters and freelance journalists at a disadvantage when covering national and local government offices, as well as police headquarters, the EU said.

As part of a drive to promote regulatory reform in Japan, the EU called on Tokyo to grant foreign news media better access to information at government offices.

The Japanese association claimed, however, that on the basis of discussions held by a subcommittee set up in November 2002 in response to the EU claims, the system is an important means of pressing reluctant public officials to disclose information.

It also said the system allows the media to obtain vital public information, such as information about natural disasters, quickly and accurately.