I receive many comments from readers of this column. The articles are written by a fallible human with limited time and space, so I am grateful for every bit of feedback I receive.
Although the language used by readers who send in their comments anonymously tends to be harsh, verbal opinions are welcome, no matter how one-sided they are.
It has been 25 years since The Asahi Shimbun’s Hanshin bureau in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, was attacked by an assailant with a shotgun, leaving one reporter dead and another injured. The attacker gave no chance for the reporters to defend themselves. A letter sent to the newspaper read: “We are serious. We hand down the death sentence to all Asahi employees.” I remember my feelings then. It was like being dragged onto a battleground, but I vowed not to give in.
I was about the same age as Tomohiro Kojiro, who was 29 when he was slain. The ages of his family members more or less overlap with mine. His father died last summer at the age of 83. His wife Yuko, 52, continues to teach the piano and his daughter Miki, 27, works at a television station. It is unknown whether the attacker, who wore a ski mask, is still alive. Among all the unsolved criminal cases in Japan, his is one of the faces I want to see.
A series of attacks have been staged against The Asahi Shimbun by people who took issue with the newspaper’s stance. This newspaper loves this country’s climate and its culture and takes pride in most of the country’s history. It uses the Japanese language to reach its readers.
There is no way we are “anti-Japanese.” Nevertheless, the newspaper became a target of terrorism aimed at restricting free speech.
In the past quarter century, with the emergence of the Internet, the environment surrounding freedom of expression has undergone drastic changes. The freedom enjoyed by users of the Internet is protected by Article 21 of the Constitution, which went into force 65 years ago.
Apparently, in cyberspace, alleged suppression of voices by major media organizations is being referred to as “terrorism” against speech. Newspapers and major television companies are seen as enemies by some on the Internet.
Whether they are made by individuals or major media organizations, arguments that do not tolerate objections are futile. They are a waste of words that impoverish society. In order to develop and protect a forum of free speech where anyone can participate, I think we have to be on guard against masked violence in its many, widespread forms.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 3
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