Author from the media world reveals the bigoted attitude he found in Japanese media
Tokyo, 31st December 2023 – Published as article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article
Big Media’s Sense of Justice Is at Risk
Part 3 of an interview with Masaki Kubota (窪田順生), author of “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church”
by Seisaku Morita (森田 清策)
– The publication of “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church” has also to do with your beliefs about journalism.
I have been in this business for a long time, but I am careful not to advocate my own ideology. This is my theory, but whether it’s the media or journalists, they will always be biased.
One of the ways I do this is to present what I see and hear as just “my opinion”. I do not take stances such as “I am absolutely right,” or “This is the truth about the religious organisation as I see it.” As much as possible, I want to leave it up to the reader to judge, and I continue to work with that attitude.
– Do you mean that you present material for the reader to consider?
I’m just throwing this in here. You become self-righteous when you say, “This is it!” Journalists who proclaim “anti-authority” and emphasize “standing with the weak,” can be very authoritative. Those who say, “diversity is important,” are the ones who impose their own values and justice. I question such things.
It’s okay if an individual does this, but it’s scary if it’s big media. It’s dangerous if Asahi Shimbun, NHK, etc. start saying, “It’s we who are right!” Even as a freelance writer in a weak position, I am careful not to become like that.
– Protecting the human rights of the vulnerable is said to be an important role of journalists. However, the media rarely reports on the forced de-conversions and faith-breaking (abduction and confinement) carried out by deprogrammers, Christian pastors and families of members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly Unification Church), who have sued for damage.
I understand the stories of former believers who are now suing for damages from spiritual sales and large donations. However, in the past, there were not only those issues, but also problems of abduction and confinement. Rather than taking sides on these issues, the journalist I envision should discuss them from a broader perspective.
However, now Eito Suzuki (鈴木エイト), who goes after the former Unification Church, is aggressively against the church, calling a victim of abduction and confinement a “recluse” (引きこもり – hiki komori), which is a hugely extreme thing to say.
It’s wonderful to stand by those who claim to be victims, as an ally of the weak. Then why can’t we take the same stance towards believers who claim to be victims of abduction and confinement? Not to do so is so unnatural that one might think that the stance has been decided from the beginning.
– Do some become aggressive because they only talk about things that are convenient for them?
Yes, I feel like it’s a position talk [when people say things that are convenient or advantageous to themselves from their respective positions, without consistency in their claims or policies]. I don’t think people suing for damages from the religious organisation are liars. In any organization, people who quit tend to harbor a strong resentment against that organization. When it comes to faith, you may not be able to live a new way of life unless you deny the faith, so I understand their point.
On the other hand, there are many members who believe in the teachings of the religious organisation and make it the pillar of their lives. We need to listen to both viewpoints and find a balance. However, it is unfair to ignore the arguments of believers who sue because they were abducted and locked up, and dismiss them with the words “mind control”.
When I say balance, I don’t mean that I personally am a balanced freelance writer, but that we should be balanced as a whole. As for damages caused by the religious organisation, Sayuri Ogawa (pseudonym) and others continue to complain, and there are journalists who listen to them. On the other hand, there are freelance writers like me who listen to active believers. Both exist, and it’s up to everyone in society to judge. I don’t think there is a good balance at the moment. (Interviewer: Seisaku Morita)
Featured image above: From a large demonstration in Seoul 18th August 2022 against the persection of the Family Federation / Unification Church in the Japanese media after the assassination of Shinzo Abe 8th July 2022. Photo: IMAP
“Scary Bigoted Attitude in Big Media” – text: Seisaku Morita
Masaki Kubota (窪田順生) is a non-fiction writer who has contributed to weekly and monthly magazines. He has also worked first as a producer, then as an advisor for TV-documentaries. He is journalist for a weekly magazine and a newspaper, and editor of a monthly magazine. In addition, he works as a media consultant, having conducted over 200 public relations consultations and media training sessions (training on how to handle interviews).
His books include
- “Spin Doctor – Techniques of Information Manipulation Used by Professionals Who ‘Hush up Bad Information’” (Kodansha Alpha Bunko – 2009), which deals with Japan’s political and corporate public relations strategies, and
- “14 Stairs – Reportage on the Niigata Girl’s 9 Years and 2 Months Confinement Case” (Shogakukan – 2006), which won the 12th Shogakukan Non-fiction Award for Excellence.
- His new book, “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church – the Complete Story of the Request for a Dissolution Order and the Deepest Secrets of the ‘No Good Coverage’”, is currently on sale.
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