Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported on Japanese publisher Kondasha‘s decision to cancel a translation of Australian journalist Ben Hills‘ biography of Princess Masako, which was released by Random House here in December. Hills said to the AP Saturday that he was “disappointed” by Kodansha’s decision. “We regard this as a blatant attack on freedom of speech.” He also condemned Japan’s government for exercising “censorship that would be totally unacceptable in any other advanced country” and pressuring Kodansha to surrender.
Japan’s Imperial Household Agency and its Foreign Ministry had demanded an apology from the author for “disrespectful descriptions, distortions of facts and judgmental assertions with audacious conjectures and coarse logic.” But government officials declined to cite most of the passages they found problematic. The government also protested to Random House in Sydney. Kazunobu Kakishima, editor at Kodansha, denied the company was scrapping the Japanese translation because of the government’s protest. The decision, he said, came after Hills refused to acknowledge making factual errors during an interview with a Japanese television earlier Friday. “We have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to maintain trustworthy relations with the author and thus we were forced to cancel the book,” he said.