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Japan's NHK apologizes over how suspected COVID vaccine deaths were reported

The NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)

TOKYO -- Japanese public broadcaster NHK apologized on Twitter on May 16 for editing a news program to make it look like some people had died of COVID-19 when in fact the comments used in the show were by people claiming that their family members had died after receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

    "Tsunagu kai," a Kyoto Prefecture-based association of bereaved families of people who died after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, cooperated for the NHK program. According to the group, NHK had requested interviews to "convey the voices of vaccine victims," and three members from the group sat for interviews on May 13.

    They reportedly spoke about the circumstances of their family member's death and their opposition to the vaccine, but on a News Watch 9 broadcast on May 15, the content could be taken to mean that they had lost family members due to infection with the coronavirus.

    On the afternoon of May 16, NHK apologized on the program's official Twitter account, saying, "We reported the story in a way that it could be perceived that their family members died from COVID-19 and did not convey the bereaved families' claims that the vaccine caused their deaths. We deeply apologize."

    Tsunagu kai said, "This is a serious violation of human rights, and we are considering filing a complaint with the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kato, Tokyo Bureau)

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