The uproar last week about the discovery of insider trading at Japan's public broadcaster NHK has died down, with former Asahi Breweries advisor Fukuchi Shigeo having taken over for beleaguered NHK president Hashimoto Genichi, who resigned days ahead of his scheduled end-of-term. Fukuchi has been criticized for his lack of experience in journalism or broadcasting.
This week, more comments from bloggers on the insider trading scandal at NHK (for more background see part 1).
One blogger described insider trading as potentially suicidal for any media outlet:
In order for important announcements not to have an extreme impact on the market, companies often make announcements after the close of trading. However, because documents are handed over to media outlets before the announcement, incidents like this one can happen. If media outlets do this kind of thing, companies will stop releasing information to them. That would be suicidal for the news industry.
Blogger and former Asahi newspaper journalist Hara Junjirou expressed a similar sentiment in his blog:
Employees in charge of reporting for NHK are suspected of insider trading. If this is a fact then it is a disgrace to all journalists. And on top of this, all three of the suspects came out at the same time. If this happened on an everyday basis then it would be very serious.
At the business news department of Asahi where I used to work trading in stocks was banned. That was an era when there were no regulations against insider trading and no statutory laws such as internal rules, but even so there were no violations. It is only recently that [such rules] have been incorporated into employee regulations.
Did the incident this time happen because there were no regulations, or did it happen because the morals of employees at NHK have declined, I'm not sure which of these two it is.
Even though there was no statutory law, we never traded in stocks. We thought of it as a problem of professional ethics, something which stretches back before regulations. Are the ethics of journalists perhaps wavering?
In the era we have now entered, it is said that a sense of ethics is demanded of journalists which is higher than that of ordinary people. If journalists use the information that they learn about while at work for their own personal profit, then people will stop speaking the truth to them. It goes without saying that this is a suicidal action for a media institution.
Blogger finalvent, on the other hand, didn't think the amount of money involved in the trading was actually that much:
In the case of the NHK reporters, the profit was apparently at the most about 500000 yen, and at the moment that profit was made they suddenly withdrew, so from the start it was only pocket money. But in terms of the yearly income of an NHK reporter, 500000 yen is a mere pittance. Actually, if I say that 500000 yen is a mere pittance I will probably be immediately insulted on a negative comments thread, but they are not poor like my girlfriend and I grudgingly are. That's in the case of an NHK reporter.
Blogger toritori1987, finally, interpreted the whole event in terms of society's fixation on money:
Since the bubble years, the world is all about money, money, money.
There is such a fixation on money that we are becoming a society completely without charm.
In a society where money is powerful, morals are destroyed and the basis of human society ceases to function.
There is nothing we can do when this happens in China and South Korea, countries next to ours.
However it is out of the question that our country becomes like this.