Japan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Press freedom is provided for in the constitution and generally upheld by an independent judiciary and functioning democratic political system. Japanese media and international press freedom groups expressed concern in 2002 about proposed legislation, including the Personal Data Protection Bill, that could potentially place restrictions on the press. Criticism of kisha clubs (exclusive, private, press clubs affiliated with public institutions, political parties, or large corporations) continued, with the EU calling the system a "restraint on the free trade in information." The clubs often provide major media outlets with exclusive access to news sources, while generally barring foreign and freelance reporters. Journalists sometimes practice self-censorship rather than report aggressively on sensitive financial issues.