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Sophia University United Nations Weeks Symposium “Press Freedom and the Protection of Journalists”

About 250 people attended

On June 2, Sophia University United Nations Weeks Symposium “Press Freedom and the Protection of Journalists” was held inviting Professor David Kaye. In an opening address, Vice President for Global Academic Affairs and Professor Miki Sugiura expressed her joy for such an event taking place at Sophia University where the diversity, human rights and multi-cultural learnings are highly valued with Jesuit educational spirit.

Former Chairperson of CPJ Sandra Rowe

“Crises Journalists Face and Need for Their Protection” was the theme for the first part of the symposium. The keynote address was given by Ms. Sandra Rowe, the former Chairperson of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). She indicated the dangers and the risks surrounding the journalists are now more than ever not only at the area of the conflicts or the warzones but for those who report politics. Not only they may be imprisoned but many are killed; numbers of casualties were the highest last year she reported. Even in many countries including the U.S and Japan which claim to abide democracy, in many cases self-sensor of journalists are unfairly caused by the government pressure she claimed. To overcome such ordeals she suggested it is important for journalists to connect and support each other regardless of their nationalities or organizations. She also called for the cooperation and participations in CPJ to Japanese press and media organization believing in its ability to serve a role model for the rest of Asian regions in the mission of protecting freedom and the protectection of journalists.

Associated Press (AP) Ms.Kathy Gannon and CPJ Mr. Steven Butler

Panel discussion moderated by Professor Yasuhiro Ueki of Faculty of Global Studies with Ms. Kathy Gannon (Associated Press), Mr. Steven Butler (CPJ), Mr. Yasuomi Sawa (Kyodo News) and Mr. Yoshiaki Ito (The Mainichi Shimbun) followed. Ms. Gannon shared her experience being actually shot while reporting and other dangerous incidents by both Japanese and the U.S. members revealing difficulties of the risk management and protection of journalists in a reality.

United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor David Kaye

Second part of the symposium “Press Freedom and the Challenges Facing Journalism” kicked off with the keynote speech made by United Nations Special Rapporteur Mr. David Kaye. Having been investigating worldwide of “freedom of expression”, he alarmed freedom of expression is now greatly at risk in many parts of the world, even the problems such as increasing of terrorism or “fake news” negative output of digital era are misused by authorities to control the press freedom or privacy of the people. As for the press of Japan there are some points to improve however outlook is positive, he claimed. He concluded his speech calling out to many students who attended the symposium to think of how they can contribute to ensure the freedom of expression and to consider how to influence the government or the leaders in such regard.

Panel Discussion

The panel discussion followed inviting the speakers Mr. Martin Fackler, former Tokyo Bureau Chief, The New York Times, Mr. David Schlesinger, Chairman, Index on Censorship, Mr. Hidetoshi Sotooka, Former Tokyo Head Office Managing Editor, the Asahi Shimbun, Ms. Fumie Matsubara, Director Economic news News Center, TV Asahi Corporation moderated by Yoshihiro Oto, Dean and professor, Journalism Department Sophia University. Active discussion took place regarding the topics such as the caution for overall mistrust of media as it might have been revealed in the incident such as “Britexit” and how the unique press tradition and the system of Japan may influence the expression in media. It was truly a special opportunity to learn from the sharings of prominent journalists from both the U.S. and Japan.


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