The Eishin Academy Scandal
Episode 1 of The Journalist begins at Narita International Airport. Security are hunting a suspect called Toyoda. Unfortunately they’re ordered by higher authorities to let this guy go, despite him being linked to fraud.
As the officers watch him leave in frustration, the truth about Japan’s corrupt politics starts to come to light. With the country ranked 72nd in terms of freedom of press, a plucky journalist named Matsuda tries to buck the trend and questions the Prime Minister about corruption.
Specifically, she questions the reports that large contributions were paid to a corporation that benefited greatly from this. Matsuda unsurprisingly doesn’t receive a definitive answer, but it’s clear she won’t let this go without a fight.
Back home, Matsuda’s apartment sports a wall full of dubious evidence and different documents, all of which linked to Shinjiro Toyoda. The same Toyoda, I may note, that security were told to stop following at the airport.
At work, the corruption deepens as Matsuda learns that the First Lady has sold off land at a cheap price for Eishin Academy, potentially due to personal connections. It’s another corrupt turn of events, one that’s made worse by Matsuda’s editor deciding she should take a break from the Toyoda case, given it’s going nowhere, and move across to work on this instead.
In the wake of researching, the Prime Minister categorically declines being involved in the sale of the land. He also promises to resign if any of it was true. This could be the window of opportunity Matsuda and the other rebels need to topple his entire administration.
Matsuda liaises with her editor back at the office, admitting that she thinks the last part – the statement about him resigning – was off-script. As we soon learn, it was. The office involving the Prime Minister’s advisors play damage control, changing their stance on the matter and standing by the Prime Minister’s lies.
In order to prevent this spiraling further, they deny all involvement. Shinichi Murakami is shocked when he finds out, but stays quiet.
The first steps to this comes from gathering all those involved in the Eishin Academy sale, including those ministers and officials involved at the Financial Bureau. The Director-General there, Mouri, briefs his workers. This includes Mr Kurosaki and his subordinate, Suzuki. They’re briefed by the Chief who tells them they need to fabricate documents to hide the deal.
Suzuki is shocked and struggles with the moral implication of this. It’s wrong, and he knows it. Kurosaki knows it too, but despite his quivering lip and shaky hands, he implores his workers to do what they’ve been ordered to carry out.
News of the Eishin Academy scandal spreads all over the country, including to a newspaper delivery guy called Ryo. After being encouraged to read more of tHe papers he’s delivering by a girl called Mayu, this piques his interest greatly.
The fabrication goes ahead and the Prime Minister’s office sets to work playing damage control. Some of this comes from moving Murakami to a different department and off the First Lady case. Specifically, he’s moved to the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, where rows and rows of computers sit with different workers.
The Episode Review
The Journalist gets off to a great start with an enthralling episode about political corruption and scandals. This is rife across the world of course, and here in the UK there’s a reason why the Prime Minister meets with the head of newspapers first before anyone else after taking office. It’s something that’s well-known across the world too, but to see Japanese politics like is both fascinating and concerning.
The entire episode works really well to introduce our different characters and the Eishin Academy situation. Specifically it works to show how one off-the-cuff statement can spiral into an alarming nation-wide operation of playing damage control.
With Matsuda desperate to learn the truth, Suzuki horrified over the truth and Murakami moved to the research department, many question marks are left over where this one may go next.