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Gov`t lifts travel ban on Japanese reporter in defamation trial

Gov`t lifts travel ban on Japanese reporter in defamation trial

Posted April. 15, 2015 07:16,   


Travel ban on Tatsuya Kato, former Seoul bureau chief of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun who was indicted due to the slander charge for raising suspicion over President Park Geun-hye’s whereabouts on the day of Sewol disaster last year, was lifted on Tuesday. The measure has come in eight months since August last year. Kato left Korea on the day.

There are mounting questions about the timing of and the reason for the decision by the South Korean government, which extended travel ban every three months, to terminate the ban. Japan had demanded resolution of the issue at all consultative meetings between authorities of the two countries, including foreign affairs ministers’ meeting.

The Justice Ministry of Korea confirmed that Kato`s travel ban has been lifted on Tuesday. The Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors` Office requested the ministry to lift the ban after judging all issues of controversy and evidence are compiled. The Japanese journalist had been indicted for raising suspicion that non-disclosure of President’s Park’s whereabouts on the day of Sewol sinking was due to her affairs with a man, in an article entitled “President Park Geun-hye went missing on the day of ferry sinking… Who was she meeting."

Prosecutors said that the travel ban was lifted because the court admitted that the information in the article was false and Kato did not make appeal and pledged to appear at court hearings in the coming months. Analysts say, however, that the South Korean government made political judgment not to give any cause for diplomatic tension ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first speech at the U.S. Congress at the end of this month. In the wake of the incident, Japan said that it cannot trust the rule of law in Korea, and beginning this year it erased the description that South Korea "shares basic values including freedom and democracy."

The Sankei Shimbun reported on lifting of travel ban on Kato at an online extra on the day. “I am pleased that former bureau chief Kato’s freedom to move has been reinstated,” said Takeshi Kobayashi, managing editor of the daily. “Trial is still ongoing, and I demand that Seoul revoke indictment of him at the earliest date possible.”