Asahi apologises to Nintendo for 'interview'

Asahi apologises to Nintendo for 'interview'
It was a rare role reversal for one of Japan's most respected newspapers, known for putting scoundrels in the media hotseat, when the president of the Asahi Shimbun stood before the cameras to bow, apologise and pledge to restore the damaged credibility of his organisation.

The Asahi Shimbun carried an apology in its Sunday morning edition for having quoted remarks made by the Nintendo Co. president in video footage on the company's website while giving the false impression those remarks had been made during an interview.

The Asahi explained in the apology story that it had considered it necessary to carry an apology in the paper as a result of an internal investigation, conducted after the fact had been pointed out by a party outside of the company.

The article in question was carried on a business page on June 8, 2012, in editions issued by its Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya head offices. With the headline "How to deal with the era of social [media]? Interviews with 4 major game makers," the page carried interviews with senior officials of the four firms, together with their photos, including Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. The article said that the paper "talked to responsible officials at each company."

According to Sunday's issue, the Asahi asked Nintendo for an interview with its president, but was turned down. Then, the Asahi asked Nintendo for permission to write an article based on remarks from the footage on the website, and believed that it had obtained approval.

Though the Asahi apologised to Nintendo after receiving a complaint from the game maker about the article, in its Sunday edition the newspaper said, "We should have clearly stated that the remarks were taken from the video footage."

"We apologise to Nintendo Co. and our readers," it also said.

Asahi's public relations section explained, "Interactions [with Nintendo] were verbal, and that caused a misunderstanding by our reporter."

Concerning a set of articles on wartime "comfort women," and reporting that Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant workers withdrew from the plant in violation of the plant manager's orders during the 2011 nuclear crisis, The Asahi Shimbun has distributed a leaflet in some regions together with its Sunday morning editions that reads, "We deeply apologise to our readers."

The leaflet apologises for a series of problems and promises to take remedial measures, including a review of the comfort women issue by a third-party committee.

The Asahi's public relations section said that the company prepared the leaflet to express their feelings of remorse again, though the paper's Friday edition carried an apology under the name of its president.

It refrained from explaining how many leaflets were distributed in which regions.

In addition, its senior writer Hiroshi Hoshi wrote in his Sunday column, "We have to seriously reflect on a series of problems."

Its readers' opinion column "Koe" (Voices) also carried an apology from page editor Yasuyoshi Komori.

Abe seeks global explanation

Concerning retraction by the Asahi Shimbun of some of its articles on comfort women, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted on an NHK programme Sunday that the Asahi should explain the retraction of the stories to the international community.

"It is a fact that monuments to criticise [Japan] have been erected around the world because [The Asahi's] articles claimed that Japanese soldiers had made them comfort women like kidnappers, and they are considered as truth in the world. When they retract articles, they are required to do so correctly toward the whole world," Abe said.

During the same programme, Abe also referred to the future of Japan-South Korean relations, saying: "It is hard to change an idea once it has been fixed. There is also a need for The Asahi Shimbun to exert more effort to explain [to South Korea] the fact that the testimony was wrong. Then, I would like to use it to improve [bilateral] relations."

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