Japan fell on 53rd position from the previous year's 22nd regarding press freedom, stated a 2013 press freedom ranking released Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders, a French nonprofit organization. It is the biggest drop recorded in any Asian country.
Japan “has been affected by a lack of transparency and almost zero respect for access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to Fukushima,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, referring to the nuclear catastrophe in 2011. “This sharp fall should sound an alarm,” it added, according to Jiji Press.
Several freelance journalists who tried to break the information restrictions had been victims of “censorship, police intimidation, and judicial harassment.”
However, Japan is not the only Asian country facing problems with media independence, the physical safety of reporters, free speech laws, and transparency. Press freedom across most parts of Asia has worsened, the report states.
North Korea and China face a poor media freedom, despite leadership changes, while Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia continue to appear at the bottom of the 179 countries list.
“Here we are still informed almost on a daily basis of violation of press freedom in these regions such as Tibet, but also for cases concerning the mainstream media located in Beijing or Shanghai,” the head of Reporters Without Borders in Asia and the Pacific, Benjamin Ismail said.
Finland, Netherlands and Norway are the countries that do best, holding the top three positions just like last year. On the other hand, war-torn dictatorships like Iran, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Syria occupy the final positions.
The Press Freedom Index is determined by questionnaires sent to non-governmental organisations, journalists, jurists and human rights workers.