Waseda Chronicle Managing Editor Hideaki Kimura served on the board of directors for the Japan Photojournalism Association, a foundation established by photojournalist Ryuichi Hirokawa using his private funds. Hirokawa sexually assaulted numerous women, including aspiring journalists.
On April 28, 2020, Bunshun Online published an article headlined “The human rights organization established by sexual predator Ryuichi Hirokawa: Why are prominent photographers defending it?” The article listed the foundation’s board members, Kimura among them.
Hirokawa is well-known as the founder of photojournalism magazine Days Japan. His history of sexual assault first became public knowledge in January 2019, just months after he established the Japan Photojournalism Association.
Since we began publication in February 2017, Waseda Chronicle’s mission has always been to aid victims and end the abuses of power. The functions of journalism — monitoring power and revealing hidden facts — are means to an end. Our aim is to bring relief to victims and prevent others from meeting a similar fate.
Waseda Chronicle is supported by those who share this belief, and it is for this purpose that our members work day in and day out.
But involvement in the foundation Hirokawa created means turning one’s back on those he assaulted. It is irreconcilable with Waseda Chronicle’s principles. On May 1, 2020, Kimura resigned as Waseda Chronicle’s managing editor, as well as from his position on Waseda Chronicle’s board. He is no longer a member of this newsroom.
The Japan Photojournalism Association claims that “Hirokawa has already left the organization and has no part in its management.” However, in the Bunshun Online article, a woman who had been sexually assaulted by Hirokawa sees things differently.
“Not a single woman harmed by Hirokawa has received any assistance or compensation from him or [his publication] Days Japan,” she said. “Hirokawa established the Japan Photojournalism Association with his personal funds. If those involved in it say ‘We’re doing important work; this is unrelated to the victims’ claims,’ they are silencing women in the name of journalism just like Hirokawa did. Don’t act as if nothing happened.”
I won’t forget what she said. Nothing could be more important than supporting those who have been hurt. When we face the issue of sexual violence, empathy for its survivors must guide our response.
I too must apologize regarding Kimura’s involvement in the Japan Photojournalism Association.
When Kimura joined its board, he told me he was doing so. Amid Waseda Chronicle’s busy schedule, I failed to fully grasp the situation and subsequently forgot about Kimura’s involvement in the foundation. It was only after Eiji Tamura, the reporter who penned the Bunshun Online article, contacted Waseda Chronicle on April 20, 2020 that I began to look into the matter. I am truly sorry for not responding to the situation in a timely manner, and I feel keenly my responsibility as editor-in-chief.
Waseda Chronicle’s commitment to standing by victims and aiding those who are suffering remains as strong as ever.
Makoto Watanabe, Editor-in-Chief
May 1, 2020
(Originally published in Japanese)