Below is the temporary translation of my book "The Crime of Reporting Crimes".
Trasnslated by Mr. Frederick Uleman.

I was only in the ninth grade when I decided I wanted to be a journalist. It was November 23, 1963-the day NHK, Japan's public-supported television network, carried the first live satellite broadcast from the U.S. Only five hours before the broadcast, President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dulles. As NHK's Washington correspondent said, "This first live satellite broadcast carries tragic news."
But it was not news to me. I had heard it about two hours earlier on a VOA (Voice of America) broadcast. Having just started to study English and fascinated with the language, I spent a lot of time listening to VOA on the radio. That particular morning, I had gotten up early for a special broadcast and heard the announcer exclaim "President Kennedy has been assassinated." Assassinated? It was a new word to me, so I promptly looked it up and learned the horrible truth. This was a major scoop for a 14-year-old in rural Shikoku, and I was quite proud of myself and decided then and there that I wanted to become a special correspondent who would deliver the news that all of Japan watched.
In preparation, I won an AFS scholarship in my senior year to spend a year going to high school in Springfield, Missouri. After that, I went to Keio University, where I majored in economics and graduated in 1972. Because I thought Kyodo News (a wire service) would be my best shot at an overseas assignment, I got a job with Kyodo. It was in my third year with Kyodo, when I was working at the Chiba Office, that I encountered my first police frame-up. This was a watershed event for me and redirected my life to exposing the clash between crime reporting and human rights. Bucking both the company and the union, I spent 12 years in the Kyodo wilderness pursuing this interest.
I have written elsewhere that the Japanese media is a lynch mob that punishes everyone accused of a crime, quite separate and apart from any legal punishment that might be imposed by the courts. This was not a popular position, and I drew considerable flack from management as well as from other reporters. Despite this, I finally managed to get transferred to the international news section in 1987, and two years later I was assigned to a three-year stint in Jakarta, Indonesia. Yet being a conscious reporter, I ended up being expelled by the Suharto government and Indonesian military. Although I was hoping to be sent to Washington after that, Kyodo decided I needed a bit more supervision. It was too much, and in April 1994, I responded to an offer from Doshisha University to join the faculty there in media studies.
Of course, this issue of media frenzies that trample roughshod on human rights is not a uniquely Japanese problem-as demonstrated in the coverage of Princess Diana's death in August 1997-but it seems especially serious in Japan, and I have thus focused on how to reconcile freedom of the press with the individual's right to privacy and honor, how to keep the media from destroying reputations, and how to provide redress for those wronged.
My first book-The Crime of Crime Reporting-was published in September 1984. As the then-breaking Miura story demonstrated, Japanese subjects are not just arrested by the police. They are also pilloried by the press. I did not really notice this-did not really think about it-until I was expected to take an active part in the process. The way it works is that the press, dependent upon the police to feed them easy stories every day, tend to become a police booster club. Consistent with this, the press assumes that anyone the police arrest must be guilty. And someone who is guilty of such a crime (whatever it is) obviously forfeits his right to any respect or privacy, so it is okay to publish his name, address, photograph, and other details. Of course, this will ruin his life if he is innocent, but he must be guilty-making it his own fault his life was ruined-because the police would surely not arrest someone unless they knew he was guilty. This is the rationalization used. While most people would agree that this media treatment is clearly an injustice if it turns out that the person is not prosecuted or is found not guilty, I would argue that the media have no right to preempt the judicial process and subject the suspect to scorn, abuse, and ostracism even if he is guilty. The proper punishment should be left to the courts, and there is no place in this process for a media-inspired lynch mob.
Instead of orderly reporting to inform the citizenry, Japanese crime coverage has been an uncontrolled frenzy. As soon as a suspect is arrested-and sometimes even before-the media starts portraying him as an evil fiend with no redeeming features. This criminal is obviously "not one of us," and society has to circle the wagons against him and his ilk. All manner of information is published to discredit the villain and to identify him so that there is no hiding. All considerations of protecting the person's privacy are thrown to the winds and the media run amuck
As mentioned earlier, the Miura case is a striking example of how this happens. In November 1981 Miura Kazuyoshi and his wife (Kazumi) visited California. During the course of their visit, both were shot, she fatally. At first, there was general sympathy for the couple. Yet in January 1984, the weekly Bungei Shunju ran a series called "Bullets of Suspicion" that all but accused Miura of murder. While there is a long tradition of media efforts to expose wrong-doing, this was a particularly vicious instance in that all consideration of any rights Muira might have were brushed aside in the rush to judgment. Many commentators and other media personalities chimed in warning of the dire consequences for society if Miura were not arrested. There were very few of us warning of the consequences-for Miura, for the media, and for society in general-of such media-induced hysteria.
Even as the media were baying for Miura's arrest, they were falling all over themselves to side with the wrongly accused in another case-the Menda case. When Menda Sakae was arrested over three decades ago, the media were quick to proclaim his guilt and quick to rejoice when he got the death sentence. Thirty years later, when he walked free on judicial reviews, the media were just as quick to sympathize with his suffering. Likewise when Saito Yukio was finally freed in the Matsuyama case, the media were full of stories lamenting that he had first been arrested on other charges, that there were irregularities in the investigation, and that there was virtually no evidence in support of his confession. These stories ran on July 12, 1984-the same year as the media was pressing the police to go after Miura on even less evidence.
When I saw these two sets of articles-one condemning the system for having treated an innocent man unjustly and the other calling upon the police to act even before the facts were in-I wondered if maybe the people covering the police beat did not consider themselves a separate vigilante force armed with pens instead of pistols. No wonder I have termed it "the crime of crime reporting." When the suspect is just a suspect, the media are pen-toting police. When he is arrested, the media are pen-toting judges. Yet when he is finally declared not guilty, the media suddenly became pen-toting defense attorneys and social workers. This is the reality of Japan's "objective and impartial" reporting.
Kyodo News, where I used to work, provides news and commentary to Japanese and non-Japanese media, print and broadcast alike, 24 hours a day. As such, it is a-if not the-major international source of news about Japan. I went to work there in April 1972 and spent a total of nine years reporting crime and other local stories, two years at the head offices in Tokyo and seven at the Chiba Bureau. In 1981, I was assigned to the broadcast section and sent overseas to file voice reports on life elsewhere. This was not supposed to be a very demanding assignment, and in some ways it was a form of exile after I had proved myself unsuited to crime reporting the way it is generally practiced. My problem on the crime beat was that I had trouble getting into the spirit of the "what a beast!" stories we were supposed to write around the hand-outs the police gave us on their latest suspect. The police would trot the suspect out, photographers would clamor for a better shot-often with the police accommodatingly manhandling the subject into position-and then the suspect would be taken away and the police would give us all the gory suspicions. This repulsed me, and I kept having this nagging feeling that, even if the person were a suspect, he was still a human being and still entitled to a modicum of civility and respect.
The more I saw of this, the more I felt the media were unconscionably ruining these poor people's lives, so I used some of my free time to meet with some of the people whose lives I had helped ruin. I even took a year off and went to Scandinavia-depleting my savings in the process-to see how this problem is handled in Sweden and Finland. I read everything I could get my hands on. I talked with people of all ages and from all walks of life. And I devised my own set of proposals for reforming Japanese crime reporting. Knowing that being a reporter inevitably involves covering the police beat, I was trying to develop the theoretical understanding and practical principles needed to check crime reporting's worst excesses. In large part, I was doing this for my own peace of mind, and it was only later that I decided to write a book about it in hopes of influencing some other people as well.
Article 11 paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, states, "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence." Similarly, Article 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen adopted in 1789 in the wake of the French Revolution reads, "As all people are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty...."
The only way to avoid media injustice is to adopt this presumption of innocence for all suspects and all defendants. Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries have already demonstrated that it is possible to observe this basic legal principle and still do good crime reporting-that it is possible to prevent abuses of power by reporting the facts while still shielding the individual's identity. In ordinary criminal cases, I contend, all suspects and defendants should be protected by a shield of anonymity. I realize that this is very much a minority view within the media, but I do not see any other way to avoid treating supposedly innocent people like hardened criminals and to ensure a fair trial and speedy rehabilitation for those who are convicted.
I have thus written this book in the hope it will find a wide readership among people interested in crime reporting and social justice and that more people will start thinking about how to reform the present system. As things are, the media have become a collective authority lording over the people. Most reporters are not even aware of the power they wield or the hurt they inflict. They do not realize the many lives their thoughtless words have ruined. As such, this effort to reform crime reporting has to also be an effort to pull the media down from its pedestal and to bring it down so it can see things from the ordinary citizen's perspective. Crime reporting has to be seen as a service to the citizenry, not an adjunct PR office for the police. And this will take a concerted effort by people of good will both inside and outside of the media. I hope this book can contribute to that cause.
Tokyo Court Finds the Media Guilty;
Miura Kazuyoshi Freed after Thirteen Years
My very first book, The Crime of Crime Reporting, was published in September 1984 and focused heavily on the Miura case. The Miura story had started years earlier and featured a young man named Miura Kazuyoshi, who had been written up in the Japanese media as an entrepreneur to watch and was achieving considerable success with his Fulham Road trading company. On November 18, 1981, Mirua and his wife were in Los Angeles taking pictures on North Freemont Avenue when there was shooting. Miura's wife, Kazumi, was hit in the head and Miura in the leg. Miura said they had been attacked by three armed robbers, and the young couple's tragedy drew heavy media coverage in Japan.
Kazumi was evacuated to a Japanese hospital by U.S. military transport but died a year later, having never regained consciousness. More than two years after the event, in January 1984, the weekly Shukan Bunshun came out with an explosive story charging that Miura had conspired to kill his wife. The alleged motive? Some \160 million in life insurance. It was not long before the rest of the media joined in. Because his aunt was a famous actress and Miura himself was a striking figure with a quick mind and articulate tongue, he was prime fodder for the media mills. Just as his wife had been dropped by a gunman's bullet, so was Miura felled by the media hail. They dragged up everything, including his juvenile brushes with the law, and presented all manner of malicious slander as received truth until the public pressure created by this media frenzy forced the Japanese police to send a team of investigators to the scene of the crime in LA.
In September 1985, Miura and a former actress whom we call call Yamada Masako were arrested. The charge? Not the November 1981 shooting but assault and battery-that he had asked her to attack Kazumi with a hammer at the hotel where she was staying in LA in August 1981. Then in October 1988, while still in prison on the earlier assault and battery charges, Miura was re-arrested and charged with conspiracy in Kazumi's death. Also charged was a man whom we shall call Ogawa Youichi, who had been a purchasing agent for Fulham Road. Miura was charged with planning and payrolling the shooting and Ogawa with pulling the trigger. The weekly Shukan Asahi, published by the prestigious Asahi newspaper chain, promptly ran a cover story entitled "The Goods on Miura."
On July 1, 1998, the Tokyo High Court found Miura not guilty. Mirua was finally free after having been incarcerated for 12 years and 9 months. Of course, one wonders why it took so long to find Miura not guilty, but the glacial pace of the wheels of justice is another book. Here, I just want to look at Miura's treatment in the press, for the "not guilty" verdict that Miura won was also a "guilty" verdict against the Japanese media.
Four years and three months before this not-guilty verdict, the Tokyo Circuit Court had sentenced Miura to life imprisonment. This verdict, on March 31, 1994, cleared Ogawa of any role in the shooting but maintained that Miura had conspired with "person or persons unknown" to murder his wife. Like a dam burst, the media seized upon this to trumpet Miura's guilt, the California media joining in with approving stories on the verdict. Not surprisingly, Miura appealed his sentence and the prosecutor's office appealed Ogawa's acquittal.
It was not until the Tokyo High Court's decision more than 50 months later that this verdict was reversed and the media's self-righteous euphoria soured. The High Court decision flew in the face of public opinion that had already judged Miura guilt, and the prosecutor's office immediately filed an appeal on Miura's acquittal (but not on the Ogawa "not guilty" decision, which had been reaffirmed). In effect, the prosecutors were willing to concede that they had no case against Ogawa and wanted now to argue that Miura had conspired with "person or persons unknown." Given the evidence and precedent to date, there is very little likelihood the Supreme Court will overturn the High Court ruling, but it has become a point of pride with the police and they are determined to drag the proceedings out to punish Miura. The state has already spent billions trying Miura, but the case refuses to die.
The coverage of the Miura case marked a major turning point for Japanese journalism. Even though this was an ordinary criminal case in which a man was charged with murdering his wife, the media abrogated the judicial role unto itself, launched its own investigation, and turned society against the accused. The Shukan Bunshun editorial staff and the people producing the television talk shows were unabashed in proclaiming "The big newspapers and other 'legitimate' media just run the hand-outs they get from the police. We are the ones who actually go out and conduct investigations to ferret out the truth." As such, they see themselves firmly within the tradition of crusading independent papers going back even before Japan's mid-19th-century opening to the West. In the introduction to my 1984 The Crime of Crime Reporting, I wrote that the reporting in the Miura case was irresponsible journalism at its worst and had nothing at all in common with true investigative reporting, and later in the book I wrote about what I had learned about how the Scandinavian media handle the difficult issue of reconciling the individual's right to privacy with the public's right to know in criminal cases. Partly as a result of this book, a grassroots organization was formed in Japan (The Liaison Committee on Human Rights and Mass Media Conduct, coordinated by Yamagiwa Eizou) to work for reforms in crime coverage.
When Shukan Bunshun whipped up a lynch mob and the courts initially ratified the mob's verdict, the way was clearly opened to the excesses seen later in the Aum Shinrikyo reporting and the massive invasions of privacy so typical of the Japanese media today. While the Japanese media will go to any length in their hunt for someone to blame in criminal cases, they are unstinting in siding with the powers that be in their other coverage.
The person who directed Shukan Bunshun's Miura coverage is Abe Takanori, then deputy editor-in-chief and now a freelance journalist. Asked about the recent "not guilty" verdict, Abe remarked, "You have to understand the kind of person Miura is to really understand this case. This is not something that can be proved with a mere recital of the facts. The verdict may have been legally correct, but it was not the truth." Of course, Abe has written extensively on this case, including his book-length Bullets of Suspicion: My Battle with Miura Kazuyoshi (published by Shukan Bunshun's parent company Bungei Shunju) and can hardly be expected to concede Miura's innocence just because the case against him does not hold. At the same time, retired police officers and the conservative literati have called the not-guilty verdict wrong-headed and, unrepentant, have said it would be a shame if the media let this setback intimidate them.
In the barrage of coverage, Miura's fledgling trading company was forced into backruptcy and he sent his daughter to live with his parents to get her out of the media glare. (Despite this precaution, one of the TV talk shows ran a story in September 1985 on "The Grade School Miura's Daughter Will be Going to in April when the New School Year Starts," and he eventually had to send this pre-schooler to far-off Kyushu to get her out of the media's sights. Although she was able to return to Tokyo four years later, she was subject to all manner of abuse. Coming to the case cold, she read the literature, the court records, and everything else she could get her hands on, and it was not until she was a teenager in junior high school that she was finally able to visit her father in the detention center. She emerged as one of his staunchest defenders.
Sadly, however, her grandmother (Kazumi's mother) was equally steadfast in her belief in Miura's guilt, and when the not-guilty verdict came in, she released a short statement to the press saying, in part, "This is a most unexpected and frustrating verdict. I don't know how I can possibly report this to my dead daughter and husband. I have yet to come to terms with this verdict."
I had the opportunity to talk with Miura in April 1985 as part of an interview arranged by the monthly Uwasa no Shinsou, and I have been close to the story ever since. In November 1994, Miura's defense team, Yamagiwa Eizou, Miura's daughter, some other people, and I went to LA to look at the crime scene and to see what we could learn. We went there at the same date and time the shooting took place and did a reenactment. In fact, we tried two reenactments: one following the police script with Ogawa as the shooter in a light van and the other the way Miura told the story with armed robbers in an old green car. In both reenactments, the actually crime took only about 15 seconds. Among the damning evidence against Miura was testimony from a team of four people from the water and power utility who were doing some work on the 8th floor about 250 meters from the scene, who said they glanced at the parking lot where the shooting took place, and who testified to not seeing the green car in Miura's story. Perhaps influenced by the pre-trial media circus, they claimed instead to have seen a white van. Yet questioned immediately after the crime, the four did not even know there had been a shooting and thought it was an ordinary robbery. In fact, it is very likely that none of the four was even looking Miura's way during the fatal 15 seconds. I video-taped both reenactments and the tape was subsequently admitted as evidence in the court case. If you actually go to the crime scene, attend the court sessions, and read thoughtfully on this case, it should be clear that Shukan Bunshun's case-the case that the public accepted as the truth-was a fabrication.
Start with the "insurance bonanza." Actually, the policy coverage was about average for someone who was earning over a million yen a month, and about half of the insurance was ordinary traveler's insurance available at any airport. And once Kazumi's hospital bills had been paid and Miura's company closed out in the wash of bad publicity, there was nothing left for Miura anyway. Nor did any go to Kazumi's parents, much to their disappointment. In fact, the first people to accuse Miura were Kazumi's parents and the insurance companies, and it was Kazumi&'s parents who took the story to Shukan Bunshun.
Nor did Miura have any non-financial reason to want Kazumi out of the way. They had just recently had a daughter and their marriage appeared strong. While there were those who wondered what a young Japanese couple was doing going to such a deserted place, it should be remembered that the Miuras were designers and had gone to LA to photograph "very American" scenes that they could use on T-shirts. And they had chosen this location because it offered a good picture of a lone palm against the backdrop of LA's cityscape.
While it is generally difficult to get a clear picture of crimes that take place overseas, the U.S. police did a very thorough investigation. Throughout, the LAPD treated Miura as the victim of an armed robbery and not as the suspect. In overseas cases, the best policy is to rely on the local authorities to conduct a good investigation. If the LAPD did not think Miura was a suspect, what new and compelling evidence did the Japanese media have?
One important piece of evidence was the testimony of ex-actress Yamada, who claimed to have been asked to attack Kazumi in LA several months earlier-a story she stuck to even though it resulted in her serving time. Yet she may have had her own agenda, since she had been hoping to marry Miura after Kazumi died and was bitter at being passed over for another woman. It was while she was nursing this grudge that the media started questioning Miura's role in his wife's death, and there is little assurance that her "confession" to a Sankei newspaper reporter was entirely true. Yet the media played it up and she embellished to the point where she ended up filing charges and then giving a confession to the police. As a result, she got herself boxed in to the point where the choice was between time for assault and battery or time for perjury.
In the first trial for the shooting, the judge said there were a number of unanswered questions, which the media immediately termed "gray zones," rebutting Miura's innocence. It may be that the judge wrote it this way because he bought the media scenario, but this is ridiculous. In law, the verdict is either guilty or not guilty. There is no room for "maybe" verdicts. But that is what we got. Instead of reasonable doubt, the judge opted for a doctrine of reasonable suspicion. Ogawa was not guilty because there were too many unanswered questions-Miura guilty because there were too many unanswered questions.
In the second trial, the High Court judge rejected the argument of shooting by person or persons unnamed and found that Miura was not proved to have conspired with Ogawa or anyone else. In addition, the judge found that Yamada's confession in the earlier assault and battery charged "lacks credibility." This was especially so in light of a medical report shortly after that incident that stated Kazumi's injuries were "not consistent with a blow to the head"-a report that the prosecution had tried to keep secret from the defense.
After he announced his verdict, the High Court judge remarked, "This was a tremendously difficult decision to write, because it had to convince a jury of 120 million." Given the weight of public opinion and the media's pro-police biases, it takes great courage for a judge to issue a not-guilty verdict. The media usually work closely with the police, with the result that the reading (and viewing) public has already mentally wrapped the case up before it even gets to court.
In his opinion, the High Court judge noted that "this was a case in which the media took the lead and the police were moved to investigate as a result of media pressure." Saying that the media frenzy had quickly declared Miura guilty on the basis of unconfirmed suspicions and had then spun the story to fit this conclusion even though an impartial look at the actual evidence would have showed the media's conclusion was in error, he added, "the media turned on Miura even before it fully examined the evidence." And "people who came into contact with the media find it difficult to exorcise these opinions once formed." Even witnesses' testimony, he said, had been influenced by the media coverage. This was perhaps the harshest judicial indictment of the media since April 20, 1973, when the Chiba Circuit Court wrote, "there are times when Japanese media coverage of crucial cases tends to sensationalism and fragmented reporting. Thus it often happens that the suspect is labeled a villain even before he is indicted and that public expectations of a guilty verdict are created. It is important that the media exercise restraint and not subject every suspect to such 'media trials'."
In fact, the reporters from the major media seldom attend the pre-trial hearings. Nor do they attend the actual court sessions. There is a row of seats set aside for the press in every courtroom, but there is seldom anybody there. And because the media do not report the on-going trial as it develops, not-guilty verdicts come as surprises to a public that only saw the media trial. In the Miura case, it was almost all editor-class people who developed the media's case against Miura. These are people who already had their minds made up and were unable to focus on Miura as a human being. Yet amazingly, Bungei Shunju, which publishes Shukan Bunshun, had the nerve after the High Court decision to state, "We never once reported that Miura was the perp." And the head of Kyodo News' crime reporting, which had carried some of the most vicious stories, went into deep denial and said, "I know the court was critical of the newspapers and news services, but I don't think we're included there."
Miura moved into his new home in August with his daughter, and he sees his aged parents every day. Although he is trying to get his life back to normal, the photo-journalism magazine Focus recently ran a paparazzi shot of him having dinner at a Tokyo hotel. Can freedom of the press really condone such invasions of this man's privacy? Rather than snooping and prying, the media should be doing their best to atone for the earlier coverage and to rehabilitate Miura's good name.
On July 1,1998, Miura met with Yamagiwa and me in suburban Tokyo. During the conversation, Miura said he has filed a total of 487 civil suits against the media, and these suits seem to be having an impact. In fact, about half of the libel suits filed in Japan in the last decade have been filed by or on behalf of Miura, and he has won about 80% of his suits. Miura said that he is determined "to show how people whose lives have been destroyed by the media can fight back," and that he will do everything he can to help in the formation of a Japan Media Council to keep the media honest. The LA dust has yet to settle.@Miura

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