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And for today’s installment of “Stupid Yellow Japs in the public spotlight”… May 25, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan.

Enter Sousuke Sumitani, announcer at Nippon Television Broadcasting Corporation. He is joined by his employer, and Masako Yabumoto, ex-announcer also previously employed by the same corporation, as examples of the moral values and sense of public responsibility which are apparently the norm in Japanese media.

It emerged on May 17th that Sumitani had been charged for  taking up-skirt photographs (of a minor, no less) with his mobile phone camera on an escalator at a shopping mall located next to Yokohama station in February. (This is the same location where Hidekazu Uekusa, ex-Professor at Waseda University, first arroused suspicion of attempting to look inside the skirt of the girl in front of him on the escalator. Is this a famous spot for up-skirt enthusiasts????)

Prosecutors decided not to prosecute, although Sumitani had admitted to taking the photos. He has been absent from the airwaves.

[Another all too common example of the law not being equal in Japan. Both prosecutors and the courts take into account the social sanction that public figures (especially) "suffer" due to the reporting of their crimes, and this is taken into account both when considering whether to prosecute, and also during sentencing]

You would think that a broadcaster would take an extremely serious view of one of their on-air staff being caught in such a compromising situation. Yet, when the story broke, the NTV PR people issued a statement saying they could not make any comment as the issue was related to the privacy of their employee.

They would not confirm the name, or even publicise the corporate sanction (if any) which said employee received. This is in contrast to their immediate sacking of an employee who worked for a NTV subsidiary who was charged with attempting to take similar photographs. Subsidiary employees are expendable, apparently. What is so inexpendable about a muscle-brained talking puppet who can't control his hormonal urges?

They also pretended this story didn't exist, not mentioning it on the air whilst all other media outlets had been reporting the news. This ostrich routine is unfortunately not uncommon with the Japanese media. Especially since the privacy laws (Law concerning the Protection of Personal Information) were passed, the law has been abused by corporations, local authorities and various other organisations. (local education authorities declining to give specific details of teachers who have been reprimanded for sexually abusing their students (such cases are far from rare, (mostly anonymous) teachers reprimanded for inappropriate sexual behaviour are frequent news items), for example, citing the law and saying that both the teacher and student might be identified and have their privacy violated if they gave more details) 

And yet broadcasters (newspapers are equally guilty of having employees engaged in similar behaviour) make so much noise about how the broadcasting industry must not be opened up to more competition, citing the public service nature of their service, and that there have to be standards to which broadcasters must be held to. They're kidding, right? Watched any of the so-called "news" on the commerical stations? Given so much news of broadcasting and media types getting into trouble for curb crawling (picking up minors included), indecent assault, arson, taking photos of the panties of high school girls, one might get the impression that either the media thinks they are above the law (which gets them eventually), or it is actually a requirement to have a warped sense of moral and ethical values, or the environment in media and broadcasting is so corrupting that originally normal people begin to indulge in deviant and anti-social behaviour.

Then we have Ms Yabumoto, ex-announcer at NTV, recent publisher of her memoirs as an announcer (like she was ever that famous or popular…), and C-list celebrity blogger. (Guess she couldn't help trying to attract attention to herself, delusions of grandeur and all that from being treated like a real celebrity during her years on TV, probably)

On her own personal blog she posted a piece which, whilst saying was not intended to defend the actions of the NTV announcer (whom she also does not name), but which reads like a piece blaming young girls wearing short skirts, and opining that the anonymous NTV employee had been punished enough in the court of public opinion. 

Cue a flood of comments and trackbacks from people who beg to differ. Lots of flaming, looks a bit like Dante's Inferno.

So she deleted the post. Oops. BIG mistake. Cue lots more comments and trackbacks. 

She relented and reposted her original post. The original post and follow ups have approximately 9000 comments attached, some (many?) which add no value to discussion, but plenty from those condemn her serious lack of judgement. Of course there are some supportive comments from people who pity her.   

It is rather disturbing to see how naive public figures are when posting to a public blog. Yabumoto says she is blogging for her personal enjoyment, and expresses her unease at some of the attacks which have been posted. As an ex-media professional, she should have thought a bit more before she had posted. She of all people knows how the media attack dogs harass people in the limelight. Well, welcome to the blogosphere were the shoe is on the other foot. In her latest post she says she cried. Maybe she'll now understand what harassment due to unwanted publicity is like.

*Yes, Jap is a derogatory term, but I can use it without it being a racial slur because I am also ethnically Japanese and I hold a Japanese passport.



1. Telyas - May 25, 2006

Thanks for the story.
I find it amazing that “Prosecuters decided not to prosecute”.

The NTV behaviour is appalling, but the prosecuters shouldn’t take in account anything but that the act itself!

On another (maybe related story), I read that Takafumi Horie denies wrongdoing (from Mainichi website). What happened to Japanese honour system?

2. fukumimi - May 29, 2006

Prosecutors unfortunately seem to take into account a person’s celebrity status way too often. If you did a statistical analysis, I suspect you would find that Japanese celebrities get away with a leaner sentence than some anonymous nobody, in drug related crime, sexual crimes, white collar crime, assault, oh, pretty much across the board.

3. fukumimi - May 29, 2006

Update: Ms Yabumoto has (again) removed the posts relating to her defence of Mr Sumitani, along with all comments.

It is undeniable that there were some personal attacks and drive-by graffiti type comments which perhaps should have been cleaned up.

I wonder if the posts will ever reappear. I am sure there are many copies of the original article anyway.

4. fukumimi - May 30, 2006

With people wondering why Sumiya’s name was not made public by NTV, it is claimed Sosuke Sumiya’s father, one Taro Sumiya, ex-Executive Director of Daiwa SMBC and currently an advisor to Daiwa Securities, is well acquainted with the Chairman of NTV, one Seiichiro Ujiie. It should also be noted that the Daiwa Securities group and Mitsui Sumitomo Banking Corporation where Sumiya Sr was before taking up the position at Daiwa SMBC are big corporate advertisers.

It is not uncommon for TV announcers being recruited because of family connections, indeed many come from very well connected families.

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