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Asahi Shimbun daily retracts articles over plagiarism

SAPPORO -- A reporter for the Asahi Shimbun national daily has plagiarized material from a local newspaper publication, the Asahi revealed on Jan. 31.

According to the Asahi, a 42-year-old male reporter at its Hakodate bureau in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, lifted material from a photo collection published by the Hokkaido Shimbun regional daily for an article series about Gilyak Amagasaki, a famed 88-year-old performing artist and Hakodate native. Two installments in the series were published on the Asahi's Hokkaido local news page on Jan. 12 and 19.

The Asahi stated on Jan. 31 that it had suspended the series, retracted the published articles, and offered an apology to all those affected.

The national paper revealed that about 40 percent of the Jan. 12 article, and 80 percent of the Jan. 19 piece closely resembled passages in essay sections of the Hokkaido Shimbun photo book "Gilyak Amagasaki 'oni no odori' kara 'inori no odori' e" (Gilyak Amagasaki, from the dance of the demon to the dance of prayer), published in 2016.

The reporter had one-on-one meetings with Amagasaki three times over November and December last year. He apparently conducted the interviews based on draft articles he had written using information drawn from the photo book. As Amagasaki was listed as the book's author, the reporter apparently "didn't think there would be a problem with using the text as long as he (Amagasaki) gave his permission."

The essay portions of the book were based on a series of pieces carried in the Hokkaido Shimbun's evening edition in 2003.

The Hokkaido daily pointed out the lifted material to the Asahi on Jan. 23, and the latter conducted an investigation. The reporter has been furloughed while the Asahi considers disciplinary measures.

"It is a violation of journalistic ethics to copy things from published works, and a betrayal of readers' trust," stated Shiro Nakamura, managing editor at the Asahi's Tokyo headquarters. "We will do a thorough internal investigation and work to prevent such an incident from happening again."

(Japanese original by Chie Yamashita, Hokkaido News Department)

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