Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates expressed annoyance over a Japanese TV program that spread rumors he was "conspiring to control the world population" through his efforts to promote vaccinations.
Microsoft Japan Co. asked TV Tokyo Corp. for a meeting to explain the thinking behind the Nov. 2 installment of "Yarisugi Toshi Densetsu Special 2012 Aki," saying the company was deeply shocked by the misleading content.
The variety show discusses details about unfounded rumors and urban legends.
On the Nov. 2 show, the emcee entertainer spent about 12 minutes floating such theories as "Bill Gates has devised a ghastly program on humanity" and "Rumors say he is attempting to use vaccines to control the world population."
Gates told The Asahi Shimbun he is doing the exact opposite.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it has sponsored programs to vaccinate 330 million children across the world against polio, pneumonia and other diseases, an effort that has saved 5.5 million lives.
Gates said that dispelling such misinformation about vaccinations would help to save the lives of millions of children. He said he wants TV viewers to understand the real situation.
TV Tokyo in December told Microsoft Japan that it would remove the questionable parts from rebroadcasts and DVD releases, Microsoft Japan officials said.
"Our approach of having entertainers use their storytelling art to present urban legends has gained a certain level of currency among our viewers," a TV Tokyo representative said. "We will draw on the latest feedback for our future work."
However, some viewers apparently believed the rumors about Gates presented on the show.
Many Twitter users and bloggers posted messages that called on people to refuse vaccinations against uterine cervical cancer on the erroneous grounds that the shots would cause sterility.
Medical workers criticized those posters for obstructing efforts to prevent cancer.
"The variety show crossed the line," said Hiroshi Yamamoto, a science fiction writer well-versed in conspiracy theories.
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