Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sankei lawsuit in Korea

According to some Japanese media, Nov. 27th is the first day of the stand trial of Tatsuya Kato, an ex-bureau chief of Sankei Shimbun in Seoul.

Kato was prosecuted by the public prosecutor in Seoul for the suspect of defamation. According to the officials, he was deemed to broaden false rumor in order to impair the reputation of President Park Geun-hye.

The Japan Times: South Korea summons Sankei reporter over ‘defamation’ of Park

He was the bureau chief of Sankei Shimbun, one of the popular newspapers in Japan. The article issued described the possibility that Park was meeting a certain guy just before the tragedy of Korean ferry Sewol sunk to kill over 300 passengers.

The Wall Street Journal: Korean Prosecutors Indict Japanese Journalist on Defamation Charge

The defendant side is objecting the prosecutor, claiming that there was no criminal act regarding the case.

I am not sure what happened exactly. Sankei Shimbun is so-called right winged in Japan, having criticized Korea occasionally. It is possible that the Korean government has been annoyed to Sankei. On the other hand, some people suggest that Park administration often make a lawsuit against the media opposing to the administration. Some opposite politicians also criticize the attitude of Park administration.

Japan Times: Lawmaker in South Korea slams Sankei reporter’s indictment as ‘shameful’

In my opinion, even if the issued article included excessive expressions against the government, it is not appropriate to make a public prosecution. It is different from civil suits. In Japan, if some foreign media made an inclined article, the Japan government would not take any action, otherwise Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, would make a post of criticizing it on Facebook. Public sector is to be neutral and has an obligation to keep social justice. It is too dangerous for the government to rely on the power. If foreign media companies retreat from Korea influenced by this case, Korea will lose some important resources of taxation, as well as an international trust.

Japan and Korea share some challenges, such as a narrow land, decreasing population, and shrinking domestic market. It is no use for them to be hostile, rather the both should learn from each other. I hope this case will find a calm solution and the mutual relationship will recovered soon.


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