Paris-based nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has released its 2013 press freedom ranking, and Japan finds itself falling 31 places from last year’s ranking at 22nd. According to the group’s statement, the country had been affected adversely by the lack of transparency as regards the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, an offshoot to the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. The group said that “this fall should sound an alarm.”
Japan had the sharpest decline this year among its Asian counterparts. Although it has a healthy media environment, the informal ban on independent coverage of subjects directly or indirectly relating to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was the greatest factor in this shocking fall. The group reported that freelance journalists who fought against these restrictions were subjected to “censorship, police intimidation, and judicial harassment.” It also pointed that the country’s media suffered from a general insularity, where elite press clubs made it hard for non-members to get access to important information and reporting opportunities.
Still, it was Mali that logged the worst fall of the year—from 25th to 99th. According to the group, that country’s media were censored and violated following a military coup in 2012 and after radical Islamist militants took control of northern Mali, which subsequently led to the France intervening. Myanmar and Afghanistan had the top improvements at 169th to 151st and 150th to 128th, respectively.[via CS Monitor]