Asahi Shimbun says sorry for erroneous stories about Fukushima disaster and WWII sex slaves

Flag of the Asahi Shimbun Company

The Asahi Shimbun’s logo

The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second highest circulating daily newspaper, has issued a public apology following the revelation that stories it published about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and second world war sex slaves were based on false information.

The newspaper claimed in a story published on 20 May – which was later widely reported by international media – that workers at a nuclear power plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company defied an order made by the plant’s late boss to stay and secure control of the reactors in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The paper has retracted the story after it emerged that it had wrongly interpreted a leaked testimony from the plant’s boss Masao Yoshida, who died last year.

The results of a government panel, released last week, concluded that – unlike the Asashi Shimbun’s version of his testimony – Yoshida had thought that it was “perfectly reasonable” for staff to evacuate to the safety of a site 10 kilometres away.

As a result of the government panel’s report, Asahi Shimbun’s executive editor, Nobuyuki Sugiura, is to be sacked and other editorial staff punished.

“We have caused significant damage to the trust our readers place in us,” the Asahi’s president Tadakazu Kimura said at a press conference. Kimura said that he would consider his own future in light of the Asahi’s misreporting.

The scandal emerges soon after the same paper admitted that stories it ran in the 1980s and 1990s on Japan’s use of “comfort women” during the second world war were based on the false testimony of a former soldier who had since been discredited by independent investigations by academics and other newspapers.

The Asahi Shimbun, with a daily morning circulation of around 7.8 million, is the world’s second highest circulation newspaper after rival Yomiuri Shimbun.


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