Sunday, June 15, 2008

Before the big sellout, the big win

And until Friday, everything was going so well last week for the right wing...

Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and Nakagawa Shōichi in particular were having a great week. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court invalidated a lower court decision forcing NHK to pay damages to the co-producers of a program on a mock war trial of the Showa Emperor. The "verdict" of the mock war trial was cut from the program after Abe and Nakagawa made a secret trip to NHK headquarters and demanded that the program be altered—and that a discussion forum featuring critics blasting program be appended to the broadcast.

Now the Tokyo High Court (the real court, not the mock trial) based its damages award decision on the assumed existence of peculiar right, the kitaiken -- the "right of expectations." In the view of the High Court, the NPOs who had co-produced the program had the right to expect that the point of the program would not be altered and furthermore that NHK would not bow to political pressure and broadcast, immediately after the co-production, a discussion program debunking the premise of the co-production.

As far as I can glean from news reports, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutionally-guaranteed the freedom of the press precludes the existence of a "right of expectations" – that as a member of the press NHK had the right to use or not use the footage as it saw fit.

So the press in Japan can rest easy, knowing it has the complete alter or suppress its own product in any way demanded by any powerful individual or sinister force. Call it the muchōhetsuraiken – "the right of gutless sycophancy."

It is a right, yea a basic freedom that all hold dear...and which clearly needs a Supreme Court's protection.

Later - In a gymnastic editorial on the Supreme Court's decision, The Asahi Shimbun provides a stirring example of muchōhetsuraiken in action.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this up. I'm still trying to piece together what the Supreme Court's logic was on the basis of the Asahi Editorial-did they just completely bracket out the accusations of government interference?

Anonymous said...

Primary sources are often helpful.

Thus, here is the Court's decision.