Atlantic: Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor’s Anti-Nuclear Speech — “Seemed to suggest that the nuclear crisis is not over” — Left out of all major evening news programs (VIDEO)

Published: March 26th, 2012 at 3:18 pm ET


Title: Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor’s Anti-Nuclear Speech
Source: The Atlantic
Author: Michael McAteer
Date: Mar 26 2012, 8:46 AM ET

“As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task.” -Emperor Akihito

At 1:10 in

[…] underneath the Imperial-grade Japanese understatement were two ideas that have become quietly explosive. First, he seemed to suggest that the nuclear crisis is not over, a “formidable task” yet to be overcome. This noticeably contradicts the government’s official stance that Fukushima has achieved a cold shutdown and, for all practical purposes, the crisis is over. Second, it implies that it is not yet safe for people to return to areas stricken with high levels of radiation, at least not before the “formidable task” is “overcome.” […]

So many Japanese were shocked when TV media began cutting out the emperor’s dramatic statement. […] by that evening, all of the major news programs aired edited versions of the speech without his nuclear comments, which also went unmentioned and undiscussed on the heavily watches news shows. The vast majority of Japanese, who don’t watch TV news during the day, missed the comments entirely. […]

Many skeptics in Japan suspect that the country’s enormous nuclear energy industry, which is famous for its influence over Japan’s politics and which has seen its business come to a near-standstill over public fears, may have played a role. After all, Tokyo Electric is one of Japanese TV’s largest sources of revenue, and is tightly linked to the Japanese government, which sponsors some media here.

The incident has also played off Japanese fears, sometimes edging into paranoia, that powerful interests in Japan are withholding important information about the risks of nuclear power. […]

The Reaction

  • “The emperor’s words were like a knife to my heart […] He seemed in such pain as well… I can only imagine the determination he felt to say what he did […] It seems to me that the Emperor was doing the most he could do, despite the constraints of his position, to communicate his opinion on the nuclear matter […] Surely the government asked him not to mention the nuclear crisis. He must have fought hard to tell the truth.”
  • “Asahi News cut the Emperor’s words just like NHK did! This must be the Government’s work… This is the height of censorship!”

h/t Anonymous tip

Read the report here

Published: March 26th, 2012 at 3:18 pm ET


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23 comments to Atlantic: Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor’s Anti-Nuclear Speech — “Seemed to suggest that the nuclear crisis is not over” — Left out of all major evening news programs (VIDEO)

  • Anthony Anthony

    Wow Japan government and TEPCO…. SHAME ON YOU.

    You will take this shame to your graves.

    How disrespectful to do this to your Emperor.

    I applaud the Emperor for trying, and for being honest.

    Please keep trying, your voice is one which can really reach and help save people.

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      I agree kudos to the Emperor for his candid comments and obvious concern. Off topic but North Anna is once again having trouble with a leak and no threat to the public has been stated. This is from the recent aftershock 3.1? I think I don't want to post here as it is not relevant to the topic.

    • StPaulScout StPaulScout

      "Japan in Uproar"

      Yes, 2 people sent politely worded messages to their elected officials complaining about radiation……..

      • ENENews

        "By March 20, nine days after the emperor's speech, outraged Japanese held a demonstration in front of NHK, the State sponsored TV network, protesting the apparent censorship."

        • TheBowRiver TheBowRiver

          Hi ENENews

          I am not sure how to get this word out. Can you help? From the Japanese constitution, article 21. It appears that this censorship was in violation of what the government swore an oath to.

          Article 21. Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.
          No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.

    • Anthony Anthony

      ****The 78-year-old Emperor Akihito had insisted on attending the memorial service, though he had been released from the hospital for heart bypass surgery less than a week earlier. While the emperor is technically just a figurehead, he is still deeply revered here. Many Japanese see him a source of guidance in times of political difficulty, which have been many in the last 20 years. His speech was highly anticipated. Unlike Prime Minister Noda, who never mentioned the nuclear crisis in his speech on the anniversary, the Emperor addressed it directly.****

      • Anthony Anthony

        ****It's impossible to say for sure whether the emperor intended to weigh in on two of the country's most sensitive policy debates. Either way, his words have struck Japan's national conversation with a weight that could only be delivered by the emperor himself. ****

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Censored or not, the nuclear problem is far worse and widespread than what he communicated. And still spreading.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Deeply moving speech. You can feel the tragedy of Japan reaching into your soul. We could have recovered from the mountains of debris and human remains caused by the earthquake and tsumani. But can we, will we, be able to recover from the nuclear tragedy that we have brought on ourselves, by our own hand? After all, humans made the Fuku reactors. And now, they may still kill us all! No nukes!

  • Daruma

    Kinda off-topic since it isn't really linked with nuclear, but it is still interesting to bring some enlightment about the true role of the imperial throne in Japan. I once made a document about it on a facebook group talking about fukushima, but since it's pretty long i would divide it in parts.

    Since the beginning of the ongoing disaster settling in fukushima, the japanese governement, the world governements and corporations (especially TEPCO) are the ones to be blamed. But many people worrying about this disastrous and appalling situation also blame the complete laxism and lack of authority coming from the Emperor of Japan. As most of us know, Japanese Emperor isn't in his rights to interfer in any policies of his country since the very end of world war II and the 1947 constitution of Japan, which was imposed by the american governement of this time. Before this time, the Japanese Emperor (under shôwa tennô, or emperor Hirohito) was considered as a living god loved by his people whose words and will were absolute things. Things are pretty much difficult to understand than this simple schema. in fact Shôwa ear which settled between 1926 and 1989 was the time the Emperor of Japan truly ruled over his country. For most of his History, it was practically impossible to settle a stable central and civilian governement throughout the archipelago. There is some History of Japan: During the antic period, Japan was fragmented into various local independent chiefdoms from each others, with quite different culture, language, rituals and beliefs. These particuliar "fiefdoms" extended over all the west of the archipelago (there was no question of Kanto at that time and even less of Tokyo).Among these chiefdoms the one from kinki (former name of the Kansai region of Osaka and Kyoto) managed to take control of other chiefdoms and finally succeeded to take all over them in a single state between the fifth and the fifth century. The sixth and seventh century marked the…

    • Daruma

      The sixth and seventh century marked the beginning of a very strong influence from Tang China, whose empire went all over Asia and was the most powerful empire in the world at this time (kinda their golden era), with the introduction of Buddhism, chinese writing system, a more sophisticated military social and political organization, timing and division of the lunar calendar age, and of course with all this came the concept of the Tennô, or the Emperor and the central governement adoption. But because of the highly political independence of the various subjected entities throughout the archipelago, this system has never been able to be correctly formalized in the country. Furthermore the territorial expension in the East from the Heian period (758-1185) did not allow total control of subject peoples, especially in the east where the revolts were frequent. The military system of conscripts could not function and there was not enough official or territories to properly adapt areas whose revenues rely on the rice fields, also imported from China through Korea. During the Heian period, the real holders of power were the rulers of a powerful family of the imperial aristocracy, the Fujiwara. On top of that, at the tenth century began to be materialized the rise of a powerful military elite body whose principal management territories were based in the Kantô area since the eighth century. these ones will later give the bushi (warrior) then the samurai during the Edo period. the end of the Heian period saw the the hardening of the warriors' political power and influence and the beginning of the bakufu (tent government) and Seii Taishogun,not as single supreme commander of the Emperor's army to remove people who rebelled against the Yamatô anymore, but as the Shôgun we currently know. This is the beginning of the Kamakura era (1185-1333) but even with such an event, the imperial government, however, retained some political influence which it shared with the bakufu in…

      • Daruma

        This is the beginning of the Kamakura era (1185-1333) but even with such an event, the imperial government, however, retained some political influence which it shared with the bakufu in the West (the East was the sole responsibility of warriors). At the end of Kamakura discontent and dissension among the various clans of warriors were such that the imperial government attempted a first attempt for a central government from 1333 to 1336, which failed completely. It has meant to divide the country again into two courts, a North one (based in Kyoto), puppet completely backed by the bakufu and a South one (located in Yoshino, Nara), resulting from the rebel emperor Go-daigô (which was the one who claimed the legitimacy of the Imperial rule), supported by the warriors who were loyal to the imperial cause and who couldn't stand anymore with the kamakura bakufu. In 1392 the Northern court won, but from there, the imperial power fell more and more into decline with the precipitation of the countries in the period of warring provinces ( Sengoku jidai1467 to 1573) that the bakufu itself could not contain.Then came the Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603) period or the three unifiers of Japan Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo period.By Edo period, imperial power has been completely overshadowed and, as strange as it may sound for unfamiliar people with japanese history, an average Japanese was completely unaware of an emperor, or at leasthe had a vague idea. The emperor became a symbolic figure, then nationalistic one around the eighteenth century and served only to mere formalities diplomatic ties between the bakufu and the court. Meiji period was the revival of imperial cult, but it was allowed only because former samurai, infuriated by the bakufu had decided to place it there as strong figure to form an entirely new nationalist ideology in order to expel any foreign influence and to allow japan for being a strong country among the most…

        • Daruma

          the most powerful ones in the world. If the samurai class was officially gone,it's because it was convenient for the daimyo (warlords) to join the imperial cause in order to get rid of the bakufu and strenghten the country against any foreign influence. (in 1885 it was decided that a private council should be founded for the Emperor in order to give hi more symbolic and power, he was the one who made the final decision by this date), the only independent and fully aware emperor who is known to this date, it was the Emperor Showa (Hirohito). With the 1946 constitution, the emperor has again lost its status and again became a puppet in the pay of government. Today, the Japanese of the older generation remains very dedicated to the figure of the emperor but this is only symbolic; The Emperor was always empty of any political decision in reality ..Many are those who criticize the Emperor because as emperor he should be able to do something for his people, that's true, but even if he wanted, the government would not hesitate to silence him. In addition the constitution strictly forbids the emperor from acting and participating in any political debate, there is most of the problem. The Emperor is a victim like so many, this is really only his rank who holds responsible, and the picture that Westerners and the Japanese themselves paint the emperor in. Historically, since the introduction of Ritsuryo kokka which was to centralize the government in 645, the Finance Ministry (direct ancestor of the MITI in actual Japan) were the true puppetteers. With the Fujiwara family during the Heian period, they had established a complex but remarkably effective system to ensure the power system with a patrilineal and matrilineal marriage. Basically they married their daughters to crown princes, and the male infant that resulted had to spend time with his maternal grandfather (then a fujiwara) to be educated, so they made sure to get power, controlling the future emperor. Under no…

  • Daruma

    Under Michinaga no fujiwara, the most famous of them and the most influential in the History of Heian court, the Fujiwara were so powerful that they could remove and appoint an Emperor at their leisure.Towards the end of the Heian period, the Fujiwara were greatly weakened and were desperately short of heirs, there were other attempts on the part of the imperial family to restore power under their control such as the Emperor Go-Sanjo who established a system of retired emperor, the emperor withdrew and established as his eldest son in his place, then he could pull the string like a puppeter at will, since unconnected with fujiwara, the fujiwara could not ensure control of the imperial heir. rudely saying, it was a big middle finger all stood up against the regency of the fujiwara. A somewhat similar system has been established with the first shogun of the Kamakura period, the Minamoto, who saw themselves ultimately manipulated by a regency or shikken, the Hojo family, but these methods Played much crueler and more radical than the fujiwara. Anyway the retired emperor system didn't work long since the power quickly felt into the hands of warriors. This is why the first attempt to restore the imperial power to the kenmu era (1333-1336) was a failure by the way, because the Emperor Go-Daigo, whowas the head of the restoration, did not intend to share with the warriors class, completely denying all the power warriors got. the warriors had followed Go-daigo, and especially those in the West, because they wanted to crush down the despotic Hojo regency rule who did not even reward their efforts to repel the two Mongol invasions of Japan. but when they realized the intent of Go daigo, that redistributed former Hôjô lands to the noble from imperial court, many of them turned their jackets and peasants followed the movement, because they had acquired much of Interests including some sort of salary for the work they provided to the warriors proprietors of rice fields and the

    • Daruma

      exemption of certain taxes. The failure was bitter for the imperial court who tried to come back to a civilian government as in Heian. since then they no longer had a second chance before to take over the political scene before Meiji. It is interesting to analyze the indigenous animistic religion of Japan which is theShinto. Shinto is itself a relatively new term and actually has been standardizedthrough the centuries since the founding texts such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, reference works written during the eighth century (the first texts written by the Japanese themselves) in order to legitimize the government's rule as Yamato being the only true ruling dynasty of Japan. you have various form of "Shintô in Japan", there is no strictly foundational texts as Shinto is made of a compilation of legends and beliefs across the archipelago of Japan.during Meiji restoration (1867 1877) it was an effort to renew the beliefs in order to exhibit any nationalist sentiments and therefore considering as "superstitions" all embarrassing believes that the new government thought was against the cult of divine descent , the kokka Shinto (state shintô). Even today it is possible to see that such spirits (kami), such creatures or monsters are typical of a particular region of Japan. In Japan, there are almost as much as divine spirits as Japanese people,just to say how culturally rich and varied the shintô is

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    So, Daruma, very little has changed. Powerful consortiums will always try to pick who is leader through influence, bribes, secrecy or deceit, or go to war trying, much like so many other countries now and in the past. Thanks for this historical narrative. Right now, energy industries have that power because they provide something very important to the public – electricity, heat, power, convenience, and leaders can never wander far from their influence without risking certain dethroning. The Emperor of Japan just wandered and reclaimed, if for a moment, true leadership.

  • arclight arclight

    my respects to the emperor and the royal family!!

    stop buying japanese papers and using offending news sources..

    support the emperor!!

    boycott the lies and see how far the advertising money lasts..

    ADK a member of the WPP PR corporation are the instigators of this and the drive to spread the contamination throughout japan and hosono is behind them.. or the other way around

    heres a link to the adk ogilvy maher WPP info…

    so the emperor aye the most contaminated foog from his organic garden! to support the people!! wowser!.. fantastic post admin

    heres a qoute from

    Ogilvy & Mather Japan
    By Chris Betros
    Executive Impact Jan. 09, 2012
    Overseeing operations in Japan is Kent Wertime. here’s what he had to say!!
    How did you respond to the events of March 11?

    "What are some unique characteristics of the Japanese market in your business?

    “…………. One is that Japan is truly unique and the other is that Japan is unique in thinking that it is unique when it is not. I think Japan does have many deep cultural issues…..”"

    "“……….. So it varied by client. Some were directly impacted by the disaster ……….. in other cases, their business went up. ……….. We had to be in tune with our clients’ needs and help them in different ways.”"

    "How would you describe your management style?
    “………… I tend to be hands on with senior clients. There is a lot of work that goes on for a client and you need to be there at guiding times. “"

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    Luckily they did not make him fall on sword, 'accidentally'.

    There may be a few cracks in the tightly controlled global, top down, 1% system.

    This may be a little evidence of that?

  • So Hirohito was the emperor calling the shots in WW2? And then USA forced a constitution on the conquered Japanese people after the war and the present Emperor Akihito is a direct descendant of the former, right? So what the Emperor says is probably more important to the Japanese people then what the Queen of England says to her people. Or at least comparable. And USA to this day has a large contingent of its armed forces stationed in Japan for which Japan paid 2 billion US$ for in 2007, see

    Funny looks like Japan pays taxes to USA. The more you delve into this situation the more you realize that USA is more or less involved in Japans political affairs and maybe deeply involved in Japans nuclear industry and the rumours of secret bomb making facilities underground in Japanese nuclear facilities might not be that far fetched. And I am not a conspiracy theorist.

    So by omitting portions of the Emperors speech is more then inexcusable and no way it was done for broadcasting time restraint issues.

    Bottom line is censorship is alive and well in the so called US style of democracy the Japanese live with. Better get a geiger counter if you don't have one. Unreported radiation in US and Canada (fiefdom of America ) is not surprising but dismal nevertheless.

  • patman

    After we understood damage suffered by Japan from radionuclide contamination, we read of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Akihito and Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of Japan Empress Michiko visiting and listening to people suffering displacement and loss of the Great Northeastern Earthquake.

    What moved me deeply was when His Imperial Majesty chose to purchase and consume vegetables produced by devastated farmers of Fukushima.

    What can not be denied is selflessness of such an accomplished biologist to demonstrate such care and self sacrifice for his people.

    This family put everything up to comfort and reassure those unfortunates.

    Surely a lesson in courage for all of us.

  • bleep_hits_blades

    @TheBowRiver – it is pretty certain that Japan is being governed under a declared national emergency – which almost certainly renders all normal civil law OPTIONAL.

    Governments like the emergency powers SO much, that I think most of them in the world today are being governed under continuous on-going national emergency. I am quite certain the USA is.

    They are not required to tell us that – because to do so might 'disturb the public peace.'

    Such a deal, huh?

    • TheBowRiver TheBowRiver

      @bleep_hits_blades-You are probably correct.

      I am a problem solver by nature and profession. After watching all this insanity since March 11, 2011, the illegal NRC in Japan appeared to be untouchable. I didn't understand how the threads allowed them this degree of control and power.

      It was maybe a month or so ago that I was directed to look at the Nuclear Energy Institute I've posted about this one before but this is where at least some of the power is derived from. All the culprits are members on the NEI. In addition a large number of universities which I make a strong ethical argument against. However, it is what it is, and if we see some university coming out with anything supporting nuclear, my first check is to see if they are affiliated to the NEI.

      Upon gathering this info, along with all the posts from yourself and others; in my head I was saying the Japanese people as well as most of humanity have no voice.

      There appeared to be only 2 possible ways to go. Either the people of Japan rise up in mass and have a French revolution, or they prepare to lose all held dear and just perish.

      It was at this point that I considered the Japanese constitution which gives total inviolate sovereign power to the people and not the government.

      I had posted earlier today if I remember correctly, that as far as re-starting the Oi Nuclear facility, every legal effort should be made to stop this from happening.

      Again, based on the constitution, it appeared that an injunction could be obtained to stop the re-opening.

      I am not a lawyer and maybe some emergency legislation negates the constitution.

      I hate standing by and seeing this ultimate evil and crimes against humanity continue.

      The most logical salvation to this insanity would be the WHO, but they are told what to say by the IAEA.