Interview with Beverly Findlay Kaneko, evacuee from Yokohama, Japan, Social Uplift, published Sept. 14, 2014: A TV journalist named Mr. Masaki Iwaji, he was the only TV director to work on the Fukushima issue — the humanitarian problems and the corruption involved — and get it on national TV… He was found dead and there are rumors that it was suicide, but there is a lot of speculation that it was not. It is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot this week… His program, which is called ‘Hodo Station’, is a nightly news program that’s very popular. I would equate it to ‘60 Minutes’. That program has come under a lot of fire. The main anchor of that program, Mr. [Ichiro] Furutachi — who is extremely popular… it was rumored that he was in danger of losing his job for actually allowing these issues to be covered. Many of us are extremely upset to hear about Mr. Iwaji’s death. It’s very frightening. >> Watch segment here
Interview w/ Mrs. Kaneko, Nuclear Hotseat w/ Libbe HaLevy, Sept. 14, 2014 (emphasis added):
- 5:00 in — Iwaji-san is the only journalist tackling the Fukushima issue in primetime. Whether he did it by his own hand or was murdered, it’s a tragic loss… He was responsible for this year’s 3/11 ‘Hodo Station’ coverage… It featured a mother of a cancer victim who agreed to appear with her face and voice disguised… His August 13th segment covered a sloppy decontamination job.
- 9:00 in — [Iwaji's friend, journalist Noriyuki Imanishi] refers to an incident where [a] police investigator who appears to be in charge… butted Iwaji’s microphone with his elbow and knocked the reporter into the mud and caused injuries that required a visit to the hospital. [My husband] Yuji and I actually met Mr. Iwaji personally in January… and at that meeting he told us about the police incident.
- 12:00 in – He was found dead having taken sleeping pills. He lit a cold briquette, he taped off the doors of a 3rd floor bedroom in his home, and this all happened in the middle of the summer heat… it was carbon monoxide poisoning.
- 12:45 in — Yasushi Nishimuta, a freelance reporter, wrote about the circumstances of Iwaji’s death… An acquaintance of Nishimuta’s met Iwaji on August 27th, and that acquaintance said that Iwaji was his old self and he was planning to start tackling the Fukushima issue again in September. On the 28th, Iwaji called the TV station saying he didn’t feel well and he wouldn’t be in. Reportedly his speech was slurred… According to police reports he died on the 29th… Iwaji was going through a difficult time with [divorce related] court mandated arbitration which is often very difficult for the men involved.
- 15:30 in — There has been no official news coverage of his death and no official mention on the ‘Hodo Station’ program and there was no obituary… after Iwaji’s death ‘Hodo Station’ anchor Ichiro Furutachi and his co-anchor appeared in all black on one evening broadcast… Also a strange caption appeared stating that, “Time for nuclear news has run out. Please accept our apologies.” The caption was strangely phrased and strangely punctuated… a play on words that took the sounds from his name and sort of combined them to — a lot of people think — to contrive this secret message.
- 17:45 in – Some people mention promises to get together for drinks or snacks, and they’ve posted recent photos of the director enjoying himself at a pub. He had plans for future projects, including a segment on the Ronald Reagan sailors… Yuji and I met with him in December and we’ve been in touch with him by telephone and email. Chillingly, a photojournalist friend of ours… said that he and Iwaji reassured each other when drinking, “Whatever happens, I want you to know I will never commit suicide.” And this is the refrain by other people too, not just someone we happen to know firsthand.
- Full interview available here
Published: September 15th, 2014 at 1:42 am ET