Shigeaki Koga, Former METI Bureaucrat
"The Chilling of Freedom of Expression in Japan?"
Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12:30 - 14:00
"I am Shigeaki Koga" might be the easiest way for this former bureaucrat to introduce himself. And for many in Japan, he would need no further introduction.
On the fast-track at Japan's once vaunted Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Koga's career derailed after his proposals calling for more radical reform of government personnel policies, including the current seniority-based system, brought the enmity of his superiors and the then ruling party. He then went on to criticize – with the temerity to do so while still a civil servant – the cozy ties between his ministry and the electric utilities, the handling of the Fukushima nuclear accident and the taxpayer bailout of the Fukushima operator, Tokyo Electric Power.
In February, Koga told an audience at the FCCJ that he was being forced off a TV Asahi evening news program, "Hodo Station," as a commentator because of pressure from the government, which didn't like his criticism. That issue came to a head last month in an appearance on the program, when Koga fell into a brief but tense "he said, she said" with the program's anchor, Ichiro Furutachi, on whether the network was ending his tenure because of pressure from the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The network and government have denied any pressure, while Koga says he has proof.
Meanwhile, there has been some criticism that he used the program for his own personal benefit and for publicity, including that he might be looking to run for political office.
Come to the FCCJ to hear what Koga has to say about the current state of freedom of expression and the press in Japan and his future plans as well as the government’s push to restart nuclear reactors and Abe’s economic and national security policies.