Japan drops in World Press Freedom Rankings

Japan drops in World Press Freedom Rankings
Picture: Man reading a newspaper. By: Roman Kraft, via Unsplash, 2017.


Malina Wiethaus

Japan and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defense 

The World Press Freedom Index is annually published by Reporters Without Borders. The index assesses the state of free journalism and press protection in 180 countries and territories. In the 2022 edition, published on the 4th of May, Japan fell to the 71st place in the world rankings. In 2021, Japan was ranked 67th (Jiji, 2022). 

The yearly report is created on the basis of quantitative data portraying freedom of press violations and abuses against journalists and their media. Moreover, qualitative data in the form of questionnaires answered by expert voices is used to conclude the observations. This new methodology allows for more precise and valuable rankings (RSF, 2022).

Reasons for the fall of Japan to place 71 is among other things the pressure of japanese businesses and governmental institutions on media management. This high pressure often results in self-censorship. Self-censorship can most often be witnessed on sensitive topics such as sexual harassment, health issues, corruption, etc. Furthermore, Japan legally restricts its journalists from accessing certain areas around defense facilities, as these are deemed “national security interests”. The same goes for the Fukushima power plants. Journalists are also threatened with up to ten years in prison when publishing information which was obtained illegally (RSF, 2021). Even Though Japan’s journalists are generally safe, more efforts are needed to uphold the notion of freedom of press (RSF, 2022). 

Sources and further readings: 

Jiji. (2022, May 4). Japan falls to 71st in world press freedom rankings. The Japan Times. 

Retrieved May 4, 2022, from 



RSF. (2021, May 5). Japan. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://rsf.org/en/country/japan

RSF. (2022, May 3). RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index : a new era of polarisation

Retrieved May 4, 2022, from