By HIROTAKA KOJI / Staff Writer
Paper with ties to power plant cancels anti-nuke book
With increasingly heightened public concern over nuclear
power after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
accident, a related scandal came to light over a possible
attempt by a newspaper company to conceal anti-nuclear
The Nishinippon Shimbun, a Fukuoka-based regional
newspaper publisher, canceled the publication of a book
last December containing statements critical of pluthermal
nuclear power generation at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s
Genkai nuclear power plant.
Before the decision was made, however, the author had
accepted a request from the Nishinippon Shimbun to delete
statements from the book on local community development.
As the reason for the cancellation, the editor in charge
cited “a decision by the management.”
According to Yu Tanaka, the book’s author, the 54-year-old
environmental activist was offered the job of writing the
book by an editor of the publication division at the
Nishinippon Shimbun. The book was scheduled to be
published at the end of October 2010.
Shortly before the printing process, however, the
Nishinippon Shimbun asked Tanaka to remove 12 pages,
including the entire section titled “Is the reprocessing
plant really needed?” which discussed the Genkai plant.
Tanaka, convinced he would have another chance to write
about the issue, agreed to delete the aforementioned
Despite his compliance, the editor notified Tanaka on Dec.
16, 2010, via e-mail, of the cancellation, saying the
company concluded that publishing the book was too
challenging for a newspaper company, Tanaka said.
But behind the scenes lies a cozy relationship between the
media firm and power company. Kyushu Electric Power is the
second largest shareholder in the Nishinippon Shimbun with
222,000 shares, or a 3.08-percent stake. The newspaper
firm also owned 3,800 shares in the power company as of
the end of March. Moreover, Takao Kawasaki, Nishinippon
Shimbun president, serves concurrently as a director of
the utility’s subsidiary, Nishi Nippon Airlines Co.
In June, Tanaka's book, including the previously deleted
passages, was published in its entirety by Tokyo's
Kodomonomiraisha Publishing. In the postscript of the
book, Tanaka described the whole story leading to the
cancellation of the initial publication.
The Asahi Shimbun asked the Nishinippon Shimbun in writing
and Kawasaki in person for interviews. Both requests were
“Writers and editors are the ones who uphold freedoms in
editing and publishing,” said Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor
of media law at Sophia University. “It is greatly
questionable and unreasonable that someone high up in the
corporate hierarchy unilaterally made a decision on such a
cancellation, irrespective of the intention of the writer
and editor engaging in book-making work on a day-to-day