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Broadcasters can be taken off air if politically unfair repeatedly: communications minister

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi is seen during a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Feb. 9, 2016. (Mainichi)

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi told a lower house budget committee session Feb. 9 that there was a possibility that broadcasters who repeatedly fail to maintain political fairness and do not make improvements despite administrative recommendations could be forced to stop broadcasting.

The remark was made at a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee in response to a question from opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lawmaker Yuichiro Tamaki. Takaichi said that there was a possibility that if a licensee repeatedly fails to be fair politically, the ministry could "take necessary action since it is in the position of ensuring that the Broadcast Act is being followed."

Article 4 of the Broadcast Act stipulates that broadcasters must be "politically fair." With this in mind, Tamaki asked whether there was a possibility of a broadcaster being forced to go off the airwaves under Article 76 of the Radio Act if it broadcasts a program that opposes the amendment of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution for a significant length of time. In response, Takaichi said there was no way that a broadcaster would be forced off the airwaves after one program, adding, "Broadcasting licensees will not be forced to cease broadcasting while I am minister, but there is no guarantee that the penalty will not be applied in the future."

At a lower house budget committee meeting on Feb. 8, Takaichi similarly responded to a question from DPJ legislator Soichiro Okuno, saying, "I cannot promise that no action will be taken when a broadcaster continues to act in the same way after it has been issued administrative warnings."

At a press conference on the morning of Feb. 9, Takaichi said that cessation of operations based on the Broadcast Act and the halting of broadcasting based on the Radio Act are "stipulated by law." She added that orders to stop broadcasting would be issued "only in very extreme cases, when it is clear that the broadcaster has violated the law, continues to make the same violations repeatedly, and is not taking any measures to prevent those violations from occurring again."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on the morning of Feb. 9, "What Takaichi said is only natural."

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