In this paper, I will analyse the news over the caricature of Muhammad
drawn on the cover of the special edition of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, and consider
whether the Japanese newspapers played a role as leaders of ‘freedom of
In Japan, three of the seven main newspapers did not publish the caricature
and one of the four that published it was protested by Islamic groups and
published an apology article.
When I analysed the articles of the seven newspapers by using a text-mining
approach, I found three problems. Primarily, the contents and attitude of
the newspapers did not necessarily emphasize ‘freedom of expression’. Secondly,
the evaluation process for the caricature and the criteria for publication or nonpublication
of the caricature were not shown. Thirdly, the newspaper that apologized
for publishing the image did not clarify the reason for the apology, and
the other newspapers did not report the news that instigated a discussion over
the rightness or wrongness of the publication. For these reasons, it is hard to
say that Japanese newspapers played the role.
In addition, it can be pointed out that the three newspapers which did not
publish the caricature either do not have a certain criterion or did not apply the
criterion. Finally, with respect to the newspaper that published the apology
article，the phenomenon known as atrophy of the news was seen.