The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's biggest daily, published a front page apology in its Oct. 13 morning edition admitting its sensational reports earlier in the week on the transplant of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells were wrong.
The newspaper has a circulation of around 10 million.
Yomiuri had reported that Japanese researcher Hisashi Moriguchi, 48, conducted the first clinical application of iPS cells in the world.
The Oct. 11 report came three days after Japan's Shinya Yamanaka was named co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for his pioneering work in stem cell research.
Along with the apology, Yomiuri printed the results of its own study into the reporting behind the initial story.
The Oct. 13 report concluded that its initial story was erroneous on grounds that a university lecturer who it had said served as co-writer of the scientific article by Moriguchi was not involved in the research. It also said that Harvard University denied the credibility of the research results that Moriguchi claimed in his article.
Yomiuri admitted that its front page and related article that ran on an inside page in its Oct. 11 morning edition on the transplant of iPS cardiac muscle cells were wrong. It also said its follow-up stories in its evening edition that same day were wrong.
The newspaper, citing its own investigation, found that its reporters did not confirm with Harvard officials whether Moriguchi's standing as visiting lecturer at the university was in fact true and that many of Moriguchi's past articles were submitted in a form that did not require rigorous peer review.
Yomiuri cited these and other points in acknowledging that its checking of facts did not stand up to scrutiny.
Yoshimitsu Ohashi, the managing editor of Yomiuri, wrote in an accompanying article that further in-house investigations would be conducted.
"We must honestly reflect on the shoddy reporting on our part," he wrote.
Following the initial Yomiuri story, Kyodo News ran an article for its subscribers on Oct. 11. The news agency on Oct. 13 transmitted its own report on an in-house investigation behind the initial story and said erroneous information had been transmitted because it accepted Moriguchi's version without sufficient cross-checking of the facts.
Meanwhile, Moriguchi talked to reporters Oct. 12 outside of the hotel in New York where he was staying.
He stated that he felt there was nothing wrong with the facts and his background. He also refused to comment on Yomiuri's admission it had published erroneous reports.
Moriguchi said he could not comment until he had read the statement issued by Harvard and other institutions that said no approval had been given for clinical research conducted by Moriguchi. He said he would give his side of the story after consulting with those involved in the research.
The Asahi Shimbun did not publish any stories on Moriguchi or his research on iPS cells. In 1996 and 1997, Asahi ran two articles about a report analyzing the results of hepatitis treatment written by Moriguchi when he was head of research at the Institute for Health Economics and Policy. In 2002, Asahi ran a commentary submitted by Moriguchi on a proposed revision to how medical fees are calculated in his position as specially appointed associate professor with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.
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