Yesterday (Jan. 9), Shinzo Abe’s second Facebook post of the year and the first with any real substance—he posted his greetings on New Year’s Day—set forth the terms and conditions for media access. Specifically, the twice-a-day cling-ons, which had been suspended during the Kan administration after 3.11, will be discontinued for good. Conversation with the Prime Minister, a talk show alternately hosted by NHK and the private networks since 1961, and group interviews with newspaper reporters, will also be abolished. Abe will grant interviews to news services and programs on a one-by-one basis. He will also hold press conferences when the occasion warrants it. The chief cabinet secretary will continue to give twice-a-day press briefings. The comments are all positive; Abe appears to have activated his counter-irony app. The following Bing translation serve as a good example of the overall tone of the comments..
“Prime Ministers official residence FB nice! We have to. I was impressed by the quickness of execution of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walk the talk! I am rooting for.”
I’m sure that all this very much displeases the mainstream reporters on the kantei beat, and will reduce Abe’s margin of error when it comes to media coverage, especially in print. I’m also sure that his political team, including PM Koizumi’s majordomo Isao Iijima, believes that the benefits—avoiding bloopers—of controlling access outweighs those costs.