Japan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 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 is upheld by an independent judiciary and a functioning democratic political system. However, although the press is free, it is not always outspoken. The European Union has formally complained about the exclusive access to news sources that major media outlets enjoy as members of Japan's 800 or more kisha clubs (private press clubs). As club members, these media receive exclusive information from government ministries, political parties, and private firms that is often unavailable to freelancers or to reporters from foreign or small publications, who are barred from some clubs. Journalists who belong to the clubs generally do not report aggressively on the conditions of ailing companies and other sensitive financial issues. Violence against journalists is rare. Nevertheless, in September, the bound and gagged body of freelance journalist Satoru Someya, who was noted for his investigative reporting on organized crime, was found in Tokyo Bay.