We live in a world where we are surrounded by endless information. However, when information is so readily available, how do we tell fact from fiction? In this seminar, three journalists, who specialise in uncovering new facts by using National Archives, will discuss how public documents can be used to reveal government secrets, both past and present, and uncover the truth in Japan and the UK. Although the use of archives is a long-standing journalistic practice, in our information saturated societies, it may take on new importance in the dissemination of knowledge.
Ginko Kobayashi will explain how public documents have been stored in Britain at the National Archives, Kew, and how this compares to public document management in Japan, touching on the ongoing scandal of the doctoring of public records by the Japanese Finance Ministry. Noburu Okabe will reveal the untold story of Japanese military intelligence activities in Europe during the Second World War. Using previously classified documents as evidence, he will argue that the Japanese military attaché Makoto Onodera had obtained highly confidential intelligence that the Soviet Union was planning to attack Japan, which he sent, as the Yalta report, to Tokyo. Okabe will reveal what the Japanese leadership did with the Yalta report and why. Nicholas Jones will explain how the UK Government releases secret documents under the 20 year rule, and how these documents sometimes reveal how the public have been misled. He will also look to the future, suggesting what may be of interest to Japanese and UK journalists in the papers that will be released in twenty years: for example, how strong were Theresa May’s efforts in her recent attempts to re-assure Japanese industrialists about their investments in a post-Brexit UK?
Ginko Kobayashi is a London-based Japanese freelance journalist. After graduating from Seijo University, Tokyo, Kobayashi first worked in financial institutions and moved on to journalism in the early 1990s as a reporter and business editor at the English language edition of The Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News) until 2002. She now writes for various Japanese media outlets about journalism and politics. Kobayashi’s books include A World History through Public Records in Britain: A Jewel Box of Primary Documents (2018); The Power of the Financial Times (2016); and A History of the British Media (2011). She also co-translated Boris Johnson’s book Churchill Factor (2016).
Noburu Okabe has been the London Bureau Chief of The Sankei Shimbun, a leading Japanese newspaper, since December 2015. After graduating from Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Okabe joined The Sankei Shimbun, where he has been a senior staff writer for 37 years. From 1997-2000 Okabe was the newspaper’s Moscow Bureau Chief, reporting on the negotiations for the return of the Northern territories and the transition of power from Yeltsin to Putin. His writing focuses on World War II intelligence gathering and post-war territorial disputes. He was awarded the 22nd Yamamoto Shichihei Prize for non-fiction writing in 2013 for his book Disappeared Yalta report: The struggle of intelligence officer Makoto Onodera, Japanese Army Attache in Riga and Stockholm. This book was adapted into a drama by the Japanese broadcaster NHK in 2016. Other published works include God of Intelligence (2015) and British dismantling, EU collapse, Russian rise – What is behind the U.K. withdrawal from the EU (2016).
Nicholas Jones, who was a BBC political and industrial correspondent for 30 years, continues to write and broadcast on political and media issues. As part of his work, both as a BBC political correspondent, and more recently as a freelance writer and broadcaster, he has built up considerable experience in examining secret cabinet papers when they are released by the National Archives. He has written extensively on the way governments and politicians attempt to manipulate the news media. His books include Sultans of Spin and Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs which expose the hidden trade between politicians and journalists in confidential documents. Most recently Jones has been examining newly-released secret government papers about the 1984-85 strike by mineworkers – a year-long dispute that was eventually won by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but which sealed the fate of the British coal industry and broke in half the UK trade union movement. Website and news archive: www.nicholasjones.org.uk
William Horsley (Chair)
William Horsley is UK Chairman of the Association of European Journalists and International Director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield. He is engaged in a range of projects with European and global partners to establish effective protections for free speech and independent journalism in countries where they are under threat. During a more than 30-year career with the BBC he was Bureau Chief in Tokyo from 1983 to 1990, covering Japan, China and other parts of Asia. Later he was a BBC World Affairs Correspondent and TV and radio presenter reporting extensively on the re-shaping of Europe’s political landscape following the fall of the Berlin Wall.