TOKYO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Provocative statements of top NHK officials on Japan's invasion history in the 1930s and 1940s have sparked widespread criticism and public anger in the island country.
The new NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii told a news conference on Jan. 25 that "comfort women" -- an euphemism for women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels -- were common in countries at war at that time, and that media "cannot say left when the government says right."
The NHK leadership further fueled the situation as Naoki Hyakuta, a novelist and member of NHK's decision-making body, said earlier this month that the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China had never happened, adding that the United States sought to cover up its own "crimes" such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by holding trials of Japan's war-time leaders.
It's considerably rare for top NHK officials to throw a barrage of questionable statements, which would arouse immeasurable negative impact on Japanese diplomacy, said Katsumasa Suzuki, secretary general of the People's Life Party.
However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took an evasive attitude in a parliament debate the same day Hyakuta made the statement, saying Hyakuta's speech reflected his personal views, which he refused to comment on.
Such a stance was not satisfactory to house members. Hiroshi Ogushi, lower house member of the opposition Democratic Party, urged Abe to agree to ask Hyakuta to face questioning in parliament.
The Japan Congress of Journalists (JCJ) also made a statement on Feb. 10, demanding Momii and Hyakuta resign from their posts.
As for Momii, JCJ said his recent remarks, based on false historical understandings, negated NHK's role as a media outlet and disqualified him as the chief of a public broadcaster.
JCJ also lashed out at Hyakuta's denial of Nanjing Massacre, which it said distorted the historical facts and deprived NHK of its public credibility.
Abe and his cabinet should be held accountable for Hyakuta's NHK nomination, which indicated Abe's intention to turn the media into a government mouthpiece, said JCJ.
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