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Tabloid magazine Shukan Shincho alleges rival 'stole' scoop from upcoming ad

The covers of the weekly magazines Shukan Bunshun, top, and Shukan Shincho. (Mainichi)

Weekly tabloid magazine Shukan Shincho is set to publish an article ripping into rival publication Shukan Bunshun in its May 25 issue, saying Bunshun's publishers got hold of a Shincho scoop through "illicit" methods, sources have told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    The article is said to allege that Bunshun obtained an ad that Shincho had prepared for display in trains and elsewhere before it had been released, and then published an article on the same topic. Bunshun's publishers, however, say the magazine did nothing illicit. The two rivals accordingly appear to be on a collision course.

    A source at Shinchosha Publishing Co., which publishes Shukan Shincho, said that the magazine will carry a 10-page article together with three front photo pages in its May 25 issue, which goes on sale on May 18, featuring the headlines "In the shadows of a scoop-first policy, constant cheating with a Shincho poster," and "Bunshun cannon -- a dirty shot."

    Both tabloid magazines are usually published on Thursdays. Sources told the Mainichi that Shincho produces train ads around two days in advance, by about noon on Tuesday, and hands them to an agency acting as a liaison between publishing companies and retailers. The ads are used to promote magazine sales in bookstores.

    A Shukan Bunshun sales employee is said to have visited the head office of publication distributor Tohan Corp. in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, and then borrowed a train ad and copied it, taking the photocopy back to Bunshun. Shinchosha says that Bunshun covered an issue based on the photocopy, and produced an article to meet its deadline late on Tuesday.

    The Shincho magazine to go on sale on May 25 will carry photos showing a sales worker copying a train ad. Shinchosha says that the worker "stole" its scoop.

    Shinchosha also argue that there was actual "damage" in the past. The Shincho magazine reported in its Sept. 11, 2014 issue that journalist Akira Ikegami stopped publishing a column in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper because the newspaper refused to publish one of his pieces discussing Asahi's feature article about its past reports on the so-called "comfort women" issue. However, not only did Bunshun publish an article featuring the same content the same day, it reported similar information on the internet two days before publication, Shinchosha says.

    Shinchosha also took issue with an article in 2016 about the victim of a drinking and gang rape incident involving students of Keio University, and a report the same year about the father of actor Yuta Takahata, a celebrity arrested on suspicion of rape who was eventually not charged.

    When approached by the Mainichi Shimbun, Shukan Shincho's editorial division commented on May 16, "We can't help feeling shocked that the train ad was illicitly obtained in an organized manner. We will continue investigating."

    A public relations representative for Bungeishunju Ltd., the publisher of Shukan Bunshun, located in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, commented, "There was no fact of illicit or illegal obtaining of information, rewriting of articles or plagiarism at all."

    A representative for Tohan Corp. said, "We do not order secrecy be maintained with train ads, but we should have paid consideration to the handling of information with regard to competing companies."

    Ikegami said he had not seen the Shincho article and could not comment.

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