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Nuclear Foes Protest Pro-Plutonium Ads That Looked Like News Items

April 9, 1993

TOKYO (AP) _ Anti-nuclear groups accused the government Thursday of attempting to ″brainwash″ the public by running advertisements that looked like news articles to promote Japan’s controversial use of plutonium.

Nine anti-nuclear groups handed a protest letter to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which says it paid $480,000 to an advertising agency to have the government messages placed in newspapers.

The letter criticized the government and the newspapers for failing to label the pages ″advertisements″ or otherwise indicate they were government- sponsored.

″This method is nothing but a government propaganda strategy that forces out all opposing views, brainwashing public opinion,″ the protest letter said.

The government came under heavy criticism last year when a ship carried plutonium from France to Japan. Many countries along the ship’s possible route complained that Japan was too secretive about the route and about precautions against terrorism or accidental leakage.

Critics in Japan and abroad have said the government is advancing a nuclear power program, using the plutonium, that many other nations say is too expensive or dangerous.

The advertisements in the newspapers Sankei and Mainichi, in the form of transcripts of panel discussions, featured officials seeking to dispel those concerns.

Mainichi spokesman Noriaki Hashimoto said the content of the ad conformed to the paper’s standards for an article and therefore did not need to be labeled ″advertisement.″

Sankei spokesman Keiichi Otaka said the page carrying the ad was labelled ″Special,″ which is regularly used for advertisements and should have prevented readers from being confused.

Harumi Tanaka of the governmental Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation said that when the ad campaign was conceived, officials weren’t aware that ethical guidelines in the media prohibit concealing an ad’s sponsor.

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