‘The Journalist’ plunges deep into the bureaucratic world, explores the different characters and their lust for power, and portrays the dilemma of those few who have managed to keep their conscience breathing.
The series directed by Michihito Fujii takes us to the dark side of democracy. The people here could be divided into four categories. The first category consists of power yielders, the guys at the top level and positions who make the decisions and benefit heavily from them. The second group is the ones who contribute to that decision-making by being a part of the process and carrying it out. The third group is the protestors, who openly criticize the government’s decisions and advocate for the rule of law. The fourth group is those who believe they are apolitical because they are so invested in their own lives that politics is unimportant to them.
‘The Journalist’ shows us characters from all these categories and makes us privy to their transformative journey. Their ideologies are at loggerheads with each other, which serves as the main conflict in the narrative.
The story is based on the novel written by Isoko Mochizuki, ‘A Journalist.’ The character of Anna Matsuda, played by Ryoko Yonekura, is based on the acclaimed Journalist. It is not a documentation of true events but takes inspiration from such political developments.
‘The Journalist’ Plot Summary
Anna Matsuda, a journalist with Touto news, is seen catching the business tycoon off guard and asking her questions about a recent scandal that he was involved in. Shinjiro Toyoda had been accused of corruption before, but due to a lack of evidence, no charges were pressed against him. He had taken subsidies for an Artificial Intelligence Development project, but in reality, no such project ever existed. At that time, Anna Matsuda’s brother, Kohei Matsuda, was working for Shinjiro Toyoda, and he revolted against the malpractice. He was just an employee, but he showed courage and acted as a whistleblower. All of a sudden, under mysterious circumstances, Kohei went into a vegetative state where he was alive but not responsive or aware. That led to the investigation shutting down as Kohei Matsuda was never able to provide the investigative agencies with any kind of evidence.
The Eshin Academy Scandal
The Nagoya Finance Bureau had given a huge discount on a public land sale, but the PM had made a statement that nothing of that sort had happened. Just as the news came to light, a bureaucrat named Kazuya Suzuki was transferred to the Chubu Local Finance bureau. Kazuya and his team were given orders to alter the official documents of the transaction so as to show that no fraud was committed. Kazuya was skeptical about doing an act that was blemished with such moral turpitude. He had always seen his job as a service that he did for the people of Japan. But this time, it was not the conscience that mattered.
People sitting at the top of the food chain just wanted to blindfold the general public. Kazuya does the dirty work, but in the process, the guilt gets the better of him. He commits suicide which starts a chain reaction. He left a suicide note for his wife, which had all the names of the people involved in the Eshin Academy Scandal. He gave a pen drive to his boss, which had a record of all the unlawful alterations made to the documents pertaining to the transactions. Anna Matsuda publishes the news, exposing the government and shaking the foundations of a corrupt regime.
‘The Journalist’ Ending Explained: Was The Government Proved Guilty Of Fraud?
The Journalist, though its narrative shows us the nitty-gritty of an unjust system, Anna Matsuda did collect all the evidence and also published an article stating the facts. It did serve as an eye-opener, but in a democracy, proving guilt is not such an easy task. The rule is that every individual is innocent until proven guilty. The media did its duty of due diligence and reported the anomalies. The matter then went to the court of law, which seemed like a victory in itself. The court found merit in the matter and took cognizance of it. As Shinichi Murakami stated correctly, it is just the beginning. Guilt on the part of the government had not been proven yet, and there was a possibility that it might never be, considering the kind of influence such people in high positions have. But it stated the importance of protest in a democracy. Most of us release that only when we become the victims of the system.
The Eshin Academy case was never about just a discount. It was about the belief of the power yielders that they could get away with anything. It was about sowing the seeds of corruption that would determine the future of the nation. It was about suppressing freedom of speech and expression. It was about tampering with the narrative to one’s benefit. You survive and thrive if you are on their side. Still, little do you realize that in the process of procuring materialistic gains, you create an authoritarian regime that looms over future generations and will go to any extent to preserve its political status quo.
‘The Journalist’ is a 2022 Japanese Investigative Drama Series directed by Michihito Fujii. Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.