Japan Fact-checks: Be aware of information taken out of context

(Issued on July 03, 2020)

Welcome to FIJ’s English FactChecks Report vol.7. This is a weekly report that comes in three parts consisting of Notable Case, Fact-checks at a glance, and Announcements & News. 

Notable Case

False: Japan’ s Supreme Court rules ‘welfare for foreigners illegal’ (fact-checked by INFACT on July 1, 2020) 

A twitter post of a screenshot of a NHK’s news video story with the captions reading that the Supreme Court judged for the first time that “foreigners are not considered ‘citizens’ protected by the Public Assistance Act” has gone viral in Japan. This post has been retweeted more than 15,000 times. But it is false.

The issue in this case was whether it was illegal or not for “the government to reject the application for public assistance by certain foreigners”. The issue was not “whether it was illegal or not to provide welfare benefits to foreign nationals”.

The Supreme Court only ruled that as the government did not have a duty to protect foreigners, it was within their legal rights to deny a foreigner’s application for public assistance, and stopped short of denying the government’s current practice of providing foreigners with public assistance. 

Therefore, it is wrong and contrary to the legal decision of the court to conclude that welfare assistance for foreigners was ruled illegal.

The original fact-checking report in Japanese is here.

(Hitofumi Yanai)

Fact-checks at a glance

We picked up the following fact-checks relating to Japan from overseas media.

 1. Fact-checked by: AFP Factcheck Kenya  | Kenya (June 26, 2020)

Misleading: South Sudan’s president and senior ministers have appeared in public wearing so-called “virus removal cards”. 

Explanation: The product has been marketed as a flu treatment in Japan since at least 2015, long before the novel coronavirus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The Japanese consumer affairs agency on May 15, 2020 warned the public that the product was ineffective against COVID-19. Scientists warn the cards, which have been banned in the US and elsewhere, do not prevent COVID-19. Read the full article here (English).

 2. Fact-checked by: Leads Stories | USA (June 24, 2020)

False: Japan sprayed looters and rioters with blue dye to identify and arrest them later.

Explanation: This claim is not true. A photo used to make that claim was taken at a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong in August of 2019. Looting is remarkably rare in Japan and we could find no documented instances of Japanese police spraying looters or rioters with colored dye. Read the full article here (English).

Check out the IFCN’s #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance database of 5,000+ fact-checks from more than 70 countries on the novel coronavirus. Other themes of factcheck can be found on each organization’s website.

Announcements & News

・We continue to welcome offers of factcheck collaboration.

・Please follow our English twitter account for the latest information! 

・For useful Japan-related information resources in English, check us out here.

Hope you stay well,

FIJ researchers team.