Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
A furore over anonymous comments by a senior Japanese bureaucrat that landed him in the middle of a political funding scandal has highlighted an unusual practice in Japan of “no memo” briefings, where journalists can listen but are forbidden to take notes.
“Off-record” briefings are common in Western journalism. These conversations between reporters and contacts will never see the light of day but can be used by sources to get their points across and some would say spin the story.
“Background” briefings, in which comments can be quoted and attributed to a “senior official” or some such but without a specific name or title, are also well-known in many countries.
But the “no memo” briefing appears to be a uniquely Japanese twist — a chat from which comments can be quoted anonymously but where reporters are forbidden to record the briefing or even take notes by hand.