January 25, 2021

An awkward reporter for a country where women don’t usually ask questions | Doc & Roll blog


Isoko Mochizuki He tries to throw a question to the secretary of the Japanese Government, Yoshihide Suga, during the appearance of the politician before the media. Five seconds after starting his presentation, he receives the first notice from the head of the room: “What is your question?” She tries to finish the sentence, but, a few seconds later, she receives another missile: “Go finished, go finishing”. Mochizuki finishes speaking, but his effort is in vain. Suga often dedicates him with little more than a monosyllable or, in the best case, accuses her of supporting her questions with false data.

For years, the local newspaper reporter Tokyo Shimbun receives public contempt from the Government of his country, which has come to pressure the Association of Japanese journalists to control Mochizuki. But she refuses to stop asking questions, which has made her a hero of press freedom for a small part of society. And also in a stink for much of the profession in Japan.

The filmmaker Tatsuya Mori shows all these altercations in i: Documentary of the Journalist, documentary that has released the Tokyo Film Festival. “Japanese society lives too close to the power of organizations and institutions. Many people fall into the trap of believing that social harmony is maintained. They feel comfortable hiding their personality under the concept of society. Isoko Mochizuki thinks and acts in a way individual (not individualist) and that, being a woman on top, is what many do not forgive him, “the director tells EL PAíS during the presentation of his film in the Japanese capital.

Mori’s camera persecuted the reporter during the first half of 2019. At that time, she investigated controversial military decisions, questions about environmental policy or financial scandals of the conservative government of Shinzo Abe, the prime minister who has held the longest position in the history of Japan. “I have witnessed how he receives insults and harassment for doing his job, but, fortunately, she remains strong and focused,” says the director.

An awkward reporter for a country where women don't usually ask questions



Mochizuki, working on the writing of the Tokyo Shimbun / Tokyo Film Festival

His documentary arrives preceded by the unexpected public success in Japan of The Journalist, a political drama inspired partially by Mochizuki and the testimonies about corruption and journalistic manipulation that he collects in his books.

In those press conferences in which Mochizuki battles, the call always takes priority Kisha club, an association of journalists who maintain a good relationship with Abe’s cabinet and whose questions have to pass the filter and even face the veto of the government team. Sometimes, members of this group of journalists are the only ones who receive access to conferences or press releases if the matter to be treated is too inconvenient for the public administration.

Mori dates this weakness of the Japanese press in the years of World War II. “It was then that the media became press agencies of the State and the Army. In later years, the power of the LPD (Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, currently in the Government) perpetuated this situation,” says the filmmaker. He says that the current situation in his country sometimes reminds him of other moments in history in which “the dictatorship came through democracy.”

The figure of Isoko Mochizuki serves the documentary maker to claim the relevant role that the media should have in our societies. “Prime Minister Abe does not hide the nostalgia he feels for past times or the control he exercises over the press. Many of the country’s reporters have forgotten that one of the main functions of journalism is to monitor political power. But she has not done “, defends the Japanese about the story of his documentary, whose end is yet to be written.

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