FactCheck Initiative Japan (FIJ) is working with media and related organizations to promote fair fact-checking in order to create a society that will not be misled by mis/disinformation.

As a part of our work, we have developed Fact-Checking Guidelines based on the Code of Principles of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN).

We support and cooperate with media partners that publish fact-checking articles based on the FIJ Fact-Checking Guidelines and share related information with them.

Table of contents
1. Overview
2. Purpose and definitions
3. Descriptive items in fact-checking articles
4. Rating standards
5. Ensuring transparency in fact-checks
Guidelines Committee Members

Fact-Checking Guidelines

Revised on April 2nd, 2019
Incorporated Nonprofit Organization FactCheck Initiative Japan
(Japanese original)


1. Overview

These Guidelines are established in relation to the method of writing and publishing fact-checking articles in order to promote the dissemination of high-quality and trusted fact-checks based on our commitment to the Code of Principles of the IFCN, which requires commitment to (1) nonpartisanship and fairness, (2) transparency of sources, (3) transparency of funding and organization, (4) transparency of methodology, and (5) an open and honest corrections policy.

These Guidelines are adopted in relation to FIJ projects. We recommend that every media source and organization follows these Guidelines regardless of whether it is participating in FIJs projects or not.

* The Code of Principles of the IFCN can be found here.

2. Purpose and definitions

I. “Fact-check” means checking public statements for which we can confirm the information contained therein objectively, verify its authenticity and accuracy, and publish the results.

II. “Fact-check” means checking the facts for authenticity and accuracy based on fair standards and evidence. It is not our purpose to protect or criticize specific political parties or organizations.

III. “Target statements” mean statements selected by us for fact-checking.

IV. “Fact-checking articles” are ones written and published based on the above criteria and following three elements:
1) Identification of target statements
2) Evaluation of the authenticity and accuracy of target statements
3) Reason(s) for the rating and the basis of such information

3. Descriptive items in fact-checking articles

When writing and publishing fact-checking articles, abide by the Code of Principles of the IFCN and fulfill the following conditions as much as possible.

I. Label the item a fact-checking article
When publishing a fact-checking article, it is essential to state that it is a fact-checking article rather than an ordinary one.

II. Identification of target statements
(1) Target statements for fact-checking
(a) As a general rule, target statements should be verifiable in terms of their facts or accuracy by objective evidence. Statements which include opinions and claims but do not include facts cannot be target statements.
(b) Target statements must have been published and have the potential to exert a significant impact on society.
(2) Notation of target statements
(a) Target statements should be quoted where necessary and the contents outlined as specifically as possible, such as who, when, where, and how, at the beginning of fact-checking articles.
(b) Where necessary, the reputation of the maker of target statements may be protected by not disclosing the identity of such person and using the statement in abstract form.
(c) When the maker of target statements corrects misinformation contained in such statements, such corrections should be included in fact-checking articles.
(3) Endnotes of corrections to target statements
Where target statements are corrected after the publication of fact-checking articles, such information should be added to the fact-checking articles in the form of an endnote.

III. Specify the facts and results found
Specify the facts checked, results found, and evaluations or ratings of the authenticity or accuracy of the target statements checked.

While it is not essential to rate fact-checked articles, any ratings published in fact-checking articles should be decided in accordance with “4. Rating standards” below. Endeavor to decide ratings fairly on the basis of fixed criteria in order to avoid arbitrary evaluations and ratings.

IV. Specify the reasons and sources of information
State all objective evidence, references, and sources of information specifically and in as much detail as much as possible in order to aid verification of the facts, results, and judgments by third parties.

V. Distinguish between fact-checks and comments/explanations
(1) Fact-checking articles should focus solely on fact-checks as much as possible and avoid mixing opinions, comments, and explanations.
(2) When adding explanations in fact-checking articles to aid readers’ understanding, avoid giving personal opinion as much as possible and do not be unnecessarily critical, aggressive, or insulting.

VI. Avoid causing misunderstanding in headlines

Headlines to fact-checking articles should be written with caution. Avoid causing any misunderstanding about the contents of target statements and verification results.

VII. Specify the dates of article updates and names of their authors
Fact-checking articles should include the dates of any updates and names of their authors. Where they are published by an organization or company with multiple members, identify the person in charge of the articles.

VIII. Disclosure of correction history
When adding endnotes or correcting or amending information, mention this history in order to facilitate easy verification by readers.

4. Rating standards

Rating means the evaluation and determination of the authenticity and accuracy of target statements in fact-checking articles.

We recommend following the ratings below, which were formulated with media representatives for the purpose of preventing the making of arbitrary evaluations and judgements. These ratings are subject to change on the basis of future discussions with media representatives.

When publishing fact-checking articles without using, or with changes to, the ratings below, announce your own rating standards to the public.

(Rating lists and definitions)

Accurate The claim is factually accurate and not lacking significant elements.
 Mostly accurate The main elements of the statement are factually accurate, but there are some minor or insignificant errors.

 Misleading The claim appears not to have a factually inaccurate element, but has a high possibility of causing misunderstanding due to a click-bait style, lack of important facts, or such.
 Inaccurate The claim lacks overall accuracy, but is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate elements.
 Unfounded The claim is not proven to be factually false, but there is very little or no evidence to support the claim.

All or core elements of the claim are factually inaccurate.
 Fake (Fabrication) All or core elements of the claim are factually inaccurate. The speaker or writer is strongly suspected of knowing they are inaccurate.

 Suspend The factual accuracy of the claim is too difficult to prove, but the possibility of falsity cannot be denied.
 Ineligible The claim is related to personal opinion or subjective evaluation which cannot be fact-checked.

5. Ensuring transparency in fact-checks

When writing and publishing fact-checking articles continuously or occasionally as an organization, publish information regarding your organization and fact-checking guidelines based on the Code of Principles of the IFCN prior to or at the commencement of such activity. Endeavor to improve the transparency and reliability of your fact-checking activities.

I. Original guidelines
Establish fact-checking guidelines including the following points and announce them on the website where your fact-checking articles are published.
(1) Objectives and kinds of statements
The purpose of the fact-checks and what kinds of statements (themes, genres, sources/media types, etc.) will be checked.
(2) Selection criteria
What criteria are used to select the target statements.
(3) Evaluation criteria
What criteria are used to judge the truth/accuracy of target statements and what kinds of rating lists and definitions are used. When using our rating lists and definitions, state that fact.

II. Information of the organization
Disclose the following information relating to your fact-checking organization:
(1) The name of the department responsible or person in charge
(2) Your organization’s finances and their uses
(3) Your organization’s address and contact information

September 6, 2018 — Fact-Checking Guidelines ver. 1
April 2, 2019 — Fact-Checking Guidelines ver. 2

Guidelines Committee Members (as at April 2019)

Shiro Segawa: Professor at Waseda University Journalism School
Yoichiro Tateiwa: Executive Editor, Seeds for News Japan
Hitofumi Yanai: Attorney at Law; Editor, Fact-checking Department, Seeds for News Japan
Kentaro Inui: Professor, Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University
Kazuhisa Ogawa: Adjunct Professor, University of Shizuoka
Nobuyuki Okumura: Professor, Faculty of Applied Sociology, Kinki University
Keiko Kanai: Professor, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University
John Middleton: Professor, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University
Atsuo Fujimura: Director, Japan Internet Media Association (JIMA)
Yo Makino: Journalist and translator
Takeshi Yamasaki: Chairman, Science of Food Safety and Security (SFSS)