TV & Radio
Japan health min urged to quit for offending women
Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:50 PM IST
By Chisa Fujioka
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's health minister, under fire for calling women "birth-giving machines", was urged to quit by opposition parties on Tuesday, the latest furore to hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet.
The gaffe has been an embarrassment for Abe, whose support ratings are sliding ahead of an upper house election in July and who has already seen one cabinet minister step down over a political fund scandal.
In a rare show of agreement among the opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan and two smaller parties seized on the chance to attack Abe's leadership, threatening to boycott budget hearings in parliament if Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa did not resign.
"The comments violate women's human rights and show disrespect for women," Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa told reporters. "They are inexcusable."
Yanagisawa, 71, who made the remarks in a speech to lawmakers at the weekend about Japan's low birth rate, has repeatedly apologised for the "inappropriate" comments.
A senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party well versed in financial issues, he was tapped by Abe to reform the country's creaking pensions system.
Abe said in parliament he wanted Yanagisawa to remain, but the health minister appeared to have upset even his fellow conservative members in his own cabinet.
"I myself am pretty much unable to have children, so that must make me a broken product," Sanae Takaichi, minister for gender equality and one of two women in Abe's cabinet, was quoted as saying on Monday.
Takaichi, like many close to Abe, shares his views about the importance of reviving traditional family values.
Hidenao Nakagawa, the LDP's secretary-general, said he was worried about the impact on the upper house election, while Abe instructed all of his cabinet ministers to be careful in their statements, Kyodo news agency reported.
Yanagisawa is not the only one causing headaches for Abe as the prime minister tries to push ahead with key bills in a session of parliament that started this week.
Defence Minister Fumio Kyuma risked damaging ties with close ally the United States last week when he said U.S. President George W. Bush had been wrong to start the war in Iraq.
The comments, along with controversial remarks about relocating a U.S. military base in Japan, came ahead of a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Feb. 20-22.
Despite Abe's troubles, the main opposition Democrats are also struggling to boost their popularity.
The party is split over key policies, and one of its own lawmakers stepped down as upper house vice speaker last week after reports of a lapse in reporting political fund use.
In a newspaper poll last week, only 13 percent said the Democrats could win the upper house election under its leader Ozawa, while 44 percent said the LDP could win under Abe.
Blair: No exception for faith groups on gay adoption
Mon Jan 29, 3:43 PM ET
British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted there could be no exemption from forthcoming sexual orientation laws for faith-based adoption agencies who refuse to place children with gay couples.
The Catholic Church of England and Wales dug in last week for a battle with the British government over the proposed laws, which would force their adoption agencies to consider placing children with homosexuals.
Blair said he supported the right of gay couples to adopt, so there could therefore be no exemptions.
But the prime minister said in a statement that the new rules would not take effect until the end of 2008 and until then there would be a "statutory duty" for religious agencies to refer gay couples to other agencies.
Blair's wife Cherie is a Catholic and he had been thought to be sympathetic to the Church's position, amid press reports that he and members of his government had been divided on the matter.
The Catholic Church, which has gained a reputation for finding families for children with behavioral and physical problems, warned that their adoption agencies could be forced to close if local authority funding was removed.
The Church of England, a Protestant Church, has thrown its support behind the Catholics.
Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said he was "deeply disappointed" that the Church had not been granted an exemption, adding that "there is an urgent task to reach a new consensus on how best the public role of religious organisations can be safeguarded and their rights upheld."
He said in a statement: "It is clear from the Prime Minister's statement that he has listened to some of the concerns of the Catholic Church in regard to its adoption agencies."
"We are, of course, deeply disappointed that no exemption will be granted to our agencies on the grounds of widely held religious conviction and conscience."
The Christian Institute, a charity which seeks to promote Christianity in Britain, condemned Blair's statement.
"It is a very sad day for children in care. The government has decided to put gay rights first ahead of what is best for them," Christian Institute's director Colin Hart said.
"Telling religious adoption agencies they have until 2008 to change their practice or pack their bags is no comfort at all," he said.
"If Roman Catholic adoption agencies can be closed down because of their sincerely-held religious beliefs on sexual ethics then who is next? Christian nursing homes? Christian homes for the elderly?" he asked.
"The government is putting up a sign over the UK saying 'Christians are not welcome here," he said.
However, the announcement was welcomed by human rights campaigners today.
"We applaud the government for standing firm on equal treatment, even when the going appeared tough," said Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty.
"Parents are not gay, straight, black or white -- just hopefully loving and caring," she said.
Stonewall, which campaigns for equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, also welcomed the news.
Alan Wardle, director of Public Affairs for the group, said: "We warmly welcome this announcement as a victory for 21st century tolerance.
"The transitional period will give adoption agencies time to adapt and we see no reason why any of them should have to close."
Italy coalition faces challenge over gay rights
By Philip Pullella
Mon Jan 29, 11:42 AM ET
Italy's fragile governing coalition looked set on Monday for a showdown over its plan to recognize the rights of homosexual and unmarried heterosexual couples.
Justice Minister Clemente Mastella said he would rather see the government fall than back a law he calls immoral, reflecting opposition to the move among the coalition's own ranks as well as the powerful Catholic Church.
"I don't care if the government falls but I am not going to vote for that law," Mastella said at the weekend. "Homosexuals can acquire more rights but I'll never accept the idea that they can be considered a family."
It is the most divisive issue so far for the Catholics-to- communists coalition, particularly because it raises moral questions in a country where the Roman Catholic Church still wields great influence.
The draft law prepared by two government ministers would allow unwed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, to get certificates from town halls confirming they are a couple.
This would allow such couples to share health insurance and some pension rights, transfer rental contracts to each other and join waiting lists for public housing and state jobs.
The law, known as PACS (Civil Solidarity Pacts), is similar to legislation passed in France. It will have to go first to the cabinet and then to parliament for a full debate.
But the fireworks began over the weekend when Mastella got into a highly publicized verbal duel with Piero Fassino, head of the largest party in the coalition, Democrats of the Left (DS).
Mastella's small UDEUR party is one of the nine in Prime Minister Romano Prodi's coalition, which has wobbled on a range of issues, including pensions and Italian forces in Afghanistan.
Mastella, using a phrase associated more with the opposition centre-right, said all members of the governing coalition could not be "hostages" of the extreme left.
Fassino retorted: "You don't have to be a leftist to recognize a law that makes good sense."
Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the Italian bishops' conference, warned the government against trying to pass any law that would "unhinge" the traditional family.
Most members of the centre-right opposition, headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, are opposed to legal recognition for unwed couples and say the law will only be a Trojan Horse for eventual moves to legalize gay marriage.
Last month the northern city of Padua became the first in Italy to allow unmarried heterosexuals and homosexuals to register formally as "families based on ties of affection."
The move provoked the wrath of the Vatican and the political right, both of which have challenged its constitutionality.
Top Italian fashion designer takes aim at Vatican over gay rights
Mon Jan 29, 9:43 AM ET
Fashion designer Stefano Gabbana has accused the Roman Catholic Church of causing an "enormous delay" in the recognition of civil unions in Italy.
The business (and former love) partner of Domenico Dolce accused the Church of "hobbling politicians who were afraid of losing Catholics' votes."
The Vatican hierarchy "fights every day against those who in its opinion cast doubt on the traditional concept of the family," Gabbana told the daily La Stampa in an interview published Monday.
The Italian government is expected to unveil a draft bill granting legal recognition to de facto couples regardless of sexual orientation.
"The de facto family should also be protected," said Gabbana, 44, questioning, "as a Catholic, the Church's fight against love."
Gabbana and Dolce were together for 19 years before splitting up in early 2005.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi's Union coalition promised in its election manifesto last year to grant legal recognition to common law partnerships, a plan approved reluctantly by centrist Catholics within the alliance.
Justice Minister Clemente Mastella has already said he will vote against the bill.
In order to satisfy all components of the wide-ranging coalition, which also includes hardline radicals, communists and greens, the new legislation will result in far less robust civil unions than those that exist elsewhere in Europe.
The plan to grant inheritance rights, joint medical insurance and visiting rights in prisons and hospitals, among other entitlements, to unmarried couples is vehemently opposed by Italian conservatives as well as the Church.
Earlier this month Pope Benedict XVI said: "Plans to give legal recognition to other forms of union (than marriage) ... appear dangerous and counterproductive, because they will inevitably weaken and destabilize the legitimate family based on marriage."
In December the Vatican mouthpiece L'Osservatore Romano also attacked the planned legislation, saying: "Eradicating the family is the priority of Italian politics."
If the Italian government insists it is defending "individual rights" and that "nothing intends to endanger the traditional family, it will be lying," the paper said in an editorial.
The Italian Catholic Church at the weekend also reaffirmed its opposition to the bill. The secretary general of the Conference of Bishops, Giuseppe Betori, warned of a "distintegration of values" facing future generations.
The New York Times
Of Gay Sheep, Modern Science and Bad Publicity
Some sheep from a university study of homosexual behavior. About 8 percent of rams are said to seek sex with other rams instead of ewes.
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: January 25, 2007
Charles Roselli set out to discover what makes some sheep gay. Then the news media and the blogosphere got hold of the story.
Lynn Ketchum/Oregon State University
Dr. Charles Roselli has been criticized for his study of gay sheep.
Dr. Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, has searched for the past five years for physiological factors that might explain why about 8 percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams instead of ewes. The goal, he says, is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sexual orientation in sheep. Other researchers might some day build on his findings to seek ways to determine which rams are likeliest to breed, he said.
But since last fall, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals started a campaign against the research, it has drawn a torrent of outrage from animal rights activists, gay advocates and ordinary citizens around the world — all of it based, Dr. Roselli and colleagues say, on a bizarre misinterpretation of what the work is about.
The story of the gay sheep became a textbook example of the distortion and vituperation that can result when science meets the global news cycle.
The news media storm reached its zenith last month, when The Sunday Times in London published an article under the headline “Science Told: Hands Off Gay Sheep.” It asserted, incorrectly, that Dr. Roselli had worked successfully to “cure” homosexual rams with hormone treatments, and added that “critics fear” that the research “could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.”
Martina Navratilova, the tennis star who is both openly gay and a PETA ally, wrote in an open letter that the research “can only be surmised as an attempt to develop a prenatal treatment” for sexual conditions.
The controversy spilled into the blog world, with attacks on Dr. Roselli, his university and Oregon State University, which is also involved in the research. PETA began an e-mail campaign that the universities say resulted in 20,000 protests, some with language like “you are a worthless animal killer and you should be shot,” “I hope you burn in hell” and “please, die.”
The news coverage, which has been heaviest in England and Australia, focused on smirk and titillation — and, of course, puns. Headlines included “Ewe Turn for Gay Rams on Hormones” and “He’s Just Not That Into Ewe.”
In recent weeks, the tide has begun to turn, with Dr. Roselli and Jim Newman, an Oregon Health and Science publicist, saying they have been working to correct the record in print and online. The university has sent responses to senders of each PETA-generated e-mail message.
Dr. Roselli, whose research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and is published in leading scientific journals, insists that he is as repulsed as his critics by the thought of sexual eugenics in humans. He said human sexuality was a complex phenomenon that could not be reduced to interactions of brain structure and hormones.
On blogs where attacks have appeared, the researchers point out that many of the accusations, like The Sunday Times’s assertion that the scientists implant devices in the brains of the sheep, are simply false.
The researchers acknowledge that the sheep are killed in the course of the research so their brain structure can be analyzed, but they say they follow animal welfare guidelines to prevent suffering.
The authors of the Sunday Times article, Chris Gourlay and Isabel Oakeshott, referred questions to a managing editor, who they said was traveling and could not be reached.
Dr. Roselli and Mr. Newman persuaded some prominent bloggers, including Andrew Sullivan, who writes an online column for Time, to correct postings that had uncritically quoted The Sunday Times’s article. They also found an ally in the blog world: a scientist who writes under the pseudonym emptypockets and has taken up Dr. Roselli’s cause. The blogger, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said a public stand could hurt his career, said he had been cheered by the number of bloggers who dropped their opposition when presented with the facts.
Ms. Navratilova, who also received a response from the university, said she remained unconvinced.
“The more we play God or try to improve on Mother Nature, the more damage we are doing with all kinds of experiments that either have already turned or will turn into nightmares,” she wrote in an e-mail reply to a reporter’s query. “How in the world could straight or gay sheep help humanity?”
In an interview, Shalin Gala, a PETA representative working on the sheep campaign, said controlling or altering sexual orientation was a “natural implication” of the work of Dr. Roselli and his colleagues.
Mr. Gala, who asked that he be identified as openly gay, cited the news release for a 2004 paper in the journal Endocrinology that showed differences in brain structure between homosexual and heterosexual sheep.
The release quoted Dr. Roselli as saying that the research “also has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans.”
Mr. Newman, who wrote the release, said the word “control” was used in the scientific sense of understanding the body’s internal controls, not in the sense of trying to control sexual orientation.
“It’s discouraging that PETA can pick one word, try to add weight to it or shift its meaning to suggest that you are doing something that you clearly are not,” he said.
Dr. Roselli said that merely mentioning possible human implications of basic research was wildly different from intending to carry the work over to humans.
Mentioning human implications, he said, is “in the nature of the way we write our grants” and talk to reporters. Scientists who do basic research find themselves in a bind, he said, adding, “We have been forced to draw connections in a way that we can justify our research.”
As for whether the deaths of the sheep are justified, he said, “why would you pick on a guy who’s killing maybe 18 sheep a year, when there’s maybe four million killed for food and clothing in this country?”
Paul Root Wolpe, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior fellow at the university’s Center for Bioethics, said that although he supported Dr. Roselli’s research, “I’m not sure I would let him off the hook quite as easily as he wants to be let off the hook.”
By discussing the human implications of the research, even in a somewhat careful way, Dr. Roselli “opened the door” to the reaction, Dr. Wolpe said, and “he has to take responsibility for the public response.”
If the mechanisms underlying sexual orientation can be discovered and manipulated, Dr. Wolpe continued, then the argument that sexual orientation is based in biology and is immutable “evaporates.”
The prospect of parents’ eventually being able to choose not to have children who would become gay is a real concern for the future, Dr. Wolpe said. But he added, “This concern is best addressed by trying to change public perceptions of homosexuality rather than stop basic science on sexuality.”
January 30, 2007
The Gay Sheep and Sound Science (1 Letter)
To the Editor:
Re “Of Gay Sheep, Modern Science and Bad Publicity” (front page, Jan. 25):
Dr. Chuck Roselli’s research on homosexual rams is not a homophobic experiment but solid, groundbreaking science.
Dr. Roselli has taken advantage of a natural variation in the behavior of rams to find out how brains modulate sexual behavior and mate choice.
His experiment provides insight into how mate preference of any sort is formed, homosexual as well as heterosexual.
The idea that Dr. Roselli’s research is aimed at preventing homosexuality or increasing discrimination against homosexuals is baffling. If anything, understanding the biological basis of variability in mate choice should lead to greater acceptance of homosexuality.
We consider Dr. Roselli one of our finest colleagues and deplore the unfair treatment his research has received from action groups, the media and the blogosphere.
Geert J. de Vries
Amherst, Mass., Jan. 26, 2007
The writer is a professor of neuroscience and behavior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The letter was also signed by the following scientists:
Arthur P. Arnold, Ph.D.
Director, U.C.L.A. Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology
Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Physiological Science
University of California, Los Angeles
Gregory F. Ball, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Johns Hopkins University
Jacques Balthazart, Ph.D.
Université de Liege
Michael J. Baum, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Nancy G. Forger, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior
University of Massachusetts
Shaila Mani, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Baylor College of Medicine
Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Professor of Physiology and Psychiatry
University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine
Paul Micevych, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurobiology
University of California
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
University of Virginia
Eric Vilain, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Human Genetics, Pediatrics and Urology
Chief, Division of Medical Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A.
Kim Wallen, Ph.D.
Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
毎日新聞 2007年1月30日 0時05分
番組改変 ＮＨＫは政治と距離を (東京 2007/01/30)
Moscow mayor vows never to permit gay parade, calls it 'satanic'
The Associated Press
Monday, January 29, 2007
Moscow's mayor vowed Monday never to allow a gay rights parade, calling such events "satanic," but activists said they would defy a city ban to hold what would be the Russian capital's first gay rights parade.
Yury Luzhkov and city authorities had barred activists from staging a parade last year, citing the threat of violence. Activists ignored the ban, and were pummeled by right-wing protesters and detained by police.
Speaking at a Kremlin event attended by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Luzhkov again lambasted gay and lesbian groups:
"Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as satanic," he said to applause in comments broadcast on a city-controlled TV channel. "We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future."
He also charged that Western countries were facing a crisis of religious faith and were corrupting children.
"Some European nations bless single-sex marriages and introduce sexual guides in schools. Such things are a deadly moral poison for children," RIA-Novosti quoted Luzhkov as saying.
Meanwhile, Russian gay activists said they were challenging the city's ban of their parade in an appeal to the European Court for Human Rights, and pledged to hold a similar march in late May.
"Trying to silence us, the Russian authorities denied us one of the fundamental human rights. The European justice will have the last say in this case," activist and parade organizer Nikolai Alexeyev said in a statement posted on the Web site gayrussia.ru.
The issue of holding a gay parade last year split Moscow's gay community, many of whom say that Russian society is still too conservative and a parade would only provoke more violence from radical groups.
Gay rights activists estimate that 5-8 percent of Russia's 143 million people are gay and lesbian.
Mayor Luzhkov vows to prevent gay pride parade in Moscow
Moscow, January 29, Interfax - Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has vowed to prevent any gay pride parade in the Russian capital.
Supporters of a gay pride parade, "which can only be defined a satanic act," put pressure on Moscow authorities last year, he said at the 15th Christmas Readings in Moscow on Monday. "We did not allow that parade then, and we would not do that in the future," he said.
Luzhkov thanked Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II for support in withstanding "the unprecedented pressure the Moscow government and the mayor are experiencing from the West."
The mayor regretted that "religious institutions at various levels and secular authorities [of some European countries] bless same-sex marriages, and sexual manuals are made part of the school curriculum from the very first year of school."
"Supporters of such educational projects have emerged in Russia. They are enjoying generous grants from caring Western 'enlighteners'," Luzhkov said. "We think that destructive sects and propaganda of same-sex love are inadmissible. We staunchly oppose drug use and drug trafficking, a terrible crime that so far does not find worthy punishment in our laws," he said.
"It is time to crush criminals with the entire rightful weight of the law instead of falling into the swamp of human rights debates," he said. "We will never give up the fight against chauvinism, intolerance, hatred and violence, because such crimes may have irreparable consequences."
Russian gays plan to stage another pride parade in May in Moscow
Moscow, January 29, Interfax - Russian gay activists plan to stage another parade in support of the rights of the rights of sexual minorities on May 27, 2007, a year after the failed attempt, Nikolay Alexeyev, the organizer of the action, has informed Interfax.
‘The parade will take place notwithstanding any decision the authorities make. However, should the action be banned again we will go to the Strasburg court. The authorities should obey the law, which they demand of people,’ he said.
On Monday the organizers of the first gay parade in Moscow have filed a suit with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia demanding 20,000 Euros in damages.
Alexeyev stressed that with regard to the holding of a gay parade in Moscow ‘the situation this year is unique’ in that ‘no state in the Council of Europe member countries has faced complaints in the European Court against its ban on a gay parade for two years in a row’.
The complaint the organizers of a gay parade in Warsaw lodged to the European Court against the ban on it in 2005 ‘though still considered, helped to obtain permission of a similar parade in summer 2006’, Alexeyev remarked.
‘If the Constitution and the law declare the right to parades and other public actions the authorities are obliged to ensure this right and the security of the participants’, he said.
He said another notification on holding a gay pride parade has been sent to Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov ‘in the time required by law’.
Organizers of Moscow gay pride parade want compensation from Russia
Moscow, January 29, Interfax - Organizers of the Moscow gay pride parade have filed a suit with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia demanding 20,000 Euros in damages, Nikolay Alexeyev, chief organizer of the action, told Interfax on Monday.
"Finally, one will stop considering us as second-class citizens without any rights. Thanks to the authorities we have the image of people who cannot protect their rights," he said.
In particular, Russia, through its state agencies, violated Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights, which relate to the right to peaceful actions, the right to effective legal representation and ban discrimination, respectively, the organizers argued in their suit.
The ban imposed on the parade also violates Russian legislation and provisions of the European convention ratified by Russia, the claim reads.
The official notification on holding a gay pride parade was submitted to the Moscow City Hall on May 15, 2006. The authorities banned the action on May 18.
The ban was appealed with the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow, which banned the action the day before it was due to take place. The Moscow City Court upheld the ruling of the district court after hearing an appeal from the organizers of the action.
The organizers turned to the presidium of the Moscow City Court with another appeal on November 13. However, the court ruled on December 25 that "previous court rulings give no grounds to question their legality."
Japan public TV loses court case involving PM Abe
29 Jan 2007 12:04:11 GMT
By George Nishiyama
TOKYO, Jan 29 (Reuters) - NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, changed a television programme discussing Emperor Hirohito's wartime role after an approach by government official Shinzo Abe, now the prime minister, the Tokyo High Court ruled on Monday.
Abe, who at the time was deputy chief cabinet secretary, has said he met NHK executives and asked them to be "fair" in the show, which covered a mock trial held in December 2000 that found Hirohito guilty of crimes against humanity.
NHK later aired the programme but omitted footage of the verdict, leading one of the organisers of the trial, Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan (VAWW-NET), to sue the broadcaster for failing to notify them of the changes.
The high court ordered NHK and two TV production firms on Monday to pay 2 million yen ($16,400) in redress to VAWW-NET, which had been seeking 40 million yen.
Abe had denied pressuring NHK, and the broadcaster said it had made the changes based on its own judgment.
An initial district court ruling declined to find NHK liable, saying the revisions were within its editing rights.
Monday's high court ruling found that NHK had made the changes out of consideration to Abe and other ruling party politicians, but said it could not prove whether the lawmakers had given specific instructions regarding the programme.
NHK is not funded by the government and relies on viewers' subscription fees for its revenue, but its budget needs parliamentary approval, leading to criticism that it is vulnerable to pressure, especially from the ruling party.
VAWW-NET staged the mock trial to attempt to convince the government to compensate women forced to work as "comfort women", or sex slaves, for the Japanese military during World War Two.
Plaintiffs hailed Monday's ruling as a victory, although they had sought redress totalling 40 million yen.
"I am surprised and overjoyed at the fact that the court has acknowledged this much," said Rumiko Nishino, VAWW-NET's co-chairwoman.
"I think the court has tacitly pointed out that because NHK felt pressure, it revised the show," she told a news conference.
NHK called the ruling "unjust" and said it would appeal.
"We edited it from a fair standpoint and to make clear the many different views on the issue, so the court's judgment is unjust and we absolutely cannot accept it," the network said in a statement.
Abe said Monday's ruling had shown that politicians including himself did not put pressure on the public broadcaster. "It was made clear by the ruling that politicians had not intervened," he told reporters.
Abe has made controversial comments in the past about Japan's wartime actions, including questioning the involvement of its government and military in running the battlefield brothels.
But as prime minister since September, he has softened his stance on World War Two history, helping to improve ties with China and South Korea, both victims of Japanese aggression. ($1=121.69 Yen) (Additional reporting by Teruaki Ueno)
Japan's broadcaster punished for diluting sex slave program
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's public broadcaster was ordered to compensate a women's rights group Monday after producers toned down a program on World War II sex slavery, following pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Tokyo High Court ordered the NHK network and two companies which produced the program to pay a total of two million yen ($16,700) to the group for "moral damage" caused by the alteration.
The program was about a mock war tribunal, which was organised by the group in 2000, that found late wartime Emperor Hirohito guilty of crimes against humanity for allowing the army to run brothels for soldiers.
Historians say at least 200,000 young women, mostly Korean but also from Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Indonesia, were forced to serve as sex slaves, known as "comfort women," in Japanese army brothels.
The 2000 "verdict" was handed down by an international panel of four judges led by Gabrielle McDonald, the former president of the international war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia.
Abe, then the deputy chief cabinet secretary, and fellow conservative politician Shochi Nakagawa, now policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, have admitted asking NHK to be "neutral" in covering the mock trial.
The verdict on Hirohito, who died in 1989, and some testimony from former soldiers were deleted from the program when it was broadcast in January 2001.
High Court presiding judge Toshifumi Minami declined to criticize Abe and Nakagawa, saying they had only told NHK executives to be "fair and neutral."
"The NHK executives took the advice excessively seriously," Minami said. "They altered the program by judging the meaning of the advice and making it harmless to anyone."
But Satoru Nagai, a former NHK production staffer who blew the whistle on the case, had testified that Abe demanded that the program be cancelled.
In 2004, the Tokyo District Court ordered one of the production companies to pay one million yen to the group over the case. Both the defendants and plaintiffs had appealed the case.
Abe, 52, became prime minister last September with pledges to make Japan a more "assertive" nation proud of its history.
Monday January 29, 5:15 PM
High court orders NHK redress over sex-slave 'trial' program
The Tokyo High Court on Monday ordered Japan Broadcasting Corp. and two TV production companies to pay 2 million yen in compensation to a women's rights group over a 2001 television program on Japan's wartime sex slavery.
The court acknowledged that the national broadcaster known as NHK altered the contents of the program, which was based on a mock tribunal organized by the group on the issue of so-called "comfort women," after taking into account the remarks of politicians, but it fell short of recognizing intervention by Shinzo Abe, who is now prime minister, or other senior politicians.
NHK said it will immediately take steps to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Presiding Judge Toshifumi Minami said the broadcaster's senior officials thought the program could affect the Diet's approval of NHK's budget plan and "took the words of parliamentary members more seriously than necessary and guessed their intentions, and changed the program to a safer content."
He further said the program aired by NHK had "betrayed the trust and expectations of the plaintiff" as it significantly deviated from what had been explained to the plaintiff beforehand.
The judge also said NHK failed to fulfill its obligation to explain the changes to the plaintiff sufficiently.
But the ruling fell short of recognizing the plaintiff's claim that politicians, including then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe, directly intervened in the editing of the program.
Members of Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan (VAWW-NET Japan), nonetheless, called the ruling "an overall win" for the group and expressed joy.
Rumiko Nishino, the group's co-leader, said, "I was nervous that if this ruling certified that the case still falls within the range of NHK's editing rights, political interventions would be overlooked under the name of editing...But I am happy now."
Rutsuko Shoji, also co-leader of the group, said, "We want NHK to read the ruling and apologize to us, and we want them to broadcast from a citizen's point of view."
The group, which organized the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal in December 2000, initially sought 20 million yen in damages at the Tokyo District Court saying its members felt betrayed because the defendants in the suit reedited the program without explanation to the group.
It then raised the compensation claim to 40 million yen at the appeals court, arguing that NHK bore heavy responsibility for allowing political intervention.
The group helped the defendants produce the program in which the late Emperor Hirohito was found guilty by a mock tribunal of crimes against humanity for accepting institutionalized sex slavery. The sex slaves, mostly from Korea, were referred to as comfort women by the Japanese authorities.
Abe has admitted urging NHK to alter the program as he felt the contents were "biased," but he denied having pressured the broadcaster and NHK has also said it made the changes in the course of regular editing operations and on its own initiative.
The reedited program omitted certain elements, including the mock tribunal's "guilty" verdict on the late emperor, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa, testimonies by former soldiers and the name of the event organizer.
The group also said during the appeals court hearings that the reediting of the program would lead to a further coverup of the issue of wartime sex slavery and tolerance of political interventions.
The mock tribunal was intended to urge the Japanese government to take legal responsibility and to compensate women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military before and during World War II, according to the group.
The "ruling" by the mock tribunal was handed down by a panel of four judges led by Gabrielle McDonald, the former president of the International War Crimes Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia.
In March 2004, the Tokyo District Court ordered one of the production companies to pay 1 million yen to the group over the case, leading the company and the advocacy group to file appeals. The district court dismissed the group's demands for redress from NHK and the other production company.
Abe and Shoichi Nakagawa, another senior lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, were reported to have pressured NHK to refrain from broadcasting the content that was later removed.
NHK is chiefly funded by viewers' subscription fees. Its budget and business plan require parliamentary approval. The government also provides funds to NHK's international shortwave radio service and is authorized by law to issue orders on what to air on its international shortwave radio programs.
Under Abe's administration, the government issued an unprecedented order to NHK in November to place emphasis on the issue of North Korean agents' past abduction of Japanese nationals in its international shortwave radio service.
NHK Fined For Toning Down Special On "Comfort Women"
January 29, 2007 8:46 a.m. EST
Komfie Manalo - All Headline News Correspondent
Tokyo, Japan (AHN) - The Tokyo High Court on Monday slapped Japanese broadcasting giant NHK with a $16,000 penalty to compensate a women's rights group after it was found guilty of toning down a program on World War II sex slavery, because of pressure coming from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The court said the NHK network, and the producers of the program to pay the women's group "moral damage" for altering the facts in the special.
The program, which was aired in 2000, depicts a mock tribunal which found late Japanese emperor Hirohito guilty of crimes against humanity for ordering Japanese soldiers to maintain brothels and forced Asian women as their sex slaves.
An estimated 200,000 young women from Korea, Taiwan, China, Philippines and Indonesia were forced to serve as sex slaves, also known as "comfort women," during World War II for the Japanese army.
The 2000 "verdict" was handed down by an international panel of four judges led by Gabrielle McDonald, the former president of the international war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia.
Abe, who at the time was serving as chief cabinet secretary and Shochi Nakagawa, who now serves as the policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, have admitted approaching NHK and asked the network to be "neutral" in covering the mock trial.
In the toned down broadcast of NHK, the verdict on Hirohito and several testimonies from former soldiers were deleted from the program.
High Court presiding judge Toshifumi Minami refused to penalize Abe and Nakagawa as they merely told NHK officials to be "fair and neutral."
Minami said, "The NHK executives took the advice excessively seriously. They altered the program by judging the meaning of the advice and making it harmless to anyone."