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Indonesia warns Japanese media over reports on riots

Kyodo - February 17, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia warned all Japanese media Monday against what it calls bias in their recent coverage of riots in Indonesia.

The Information Ministry sent warning letters to all Japanese media affiliates based in Jakarta.

"We are very worried that the mass media have been misused by certain groups which do not want to see progress in Indonesia," said the letter dated Feb. 14 and signed by Akhmadsyah Naina, director of journalism development at the ministry.

Since October last year, Indonesia has been rocked by a series of racial scares sparked by Muslim rioters. Dozens of people have been killed in the riots which have been targeted at the nation's Chinese and Christian minorities.

The letter urged the media to be more careful in covering events in Indonesia.

However, it added "We expect that your coverage will not harm the feelings of confidence and brotherhood of the Japanese people to Indonesia."

The letter was enclosed along with an interview between the state-run news agency Antara and Shizuo Miyamoto, deputy president of an Indonesian-Japanese friendship society.

In the interview, Miyamoto said major Japanese dailies such as the Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun had sold out their objectivity because he said they have been influenced by Japanese Communist Party agents.

Indonesian President Suharto on Wednesday warned of the foreign press' "bad influence" on society because of what he described as its unbalanced and sensational reporting.

According to Suharto, the Indonesian press often relies on foreign media for its reporting on Indonesia. He said he views foreign press coverage as "a sort of spectacles which colors our perception in looking over the development of ourselves and our surroundings."

"The use of foreign spectacles recently has motivated the increase of dramatizing incidents, making hasty conclusions or writing unbalanced news," he said.