In Japan, press clubs known as 'Kisha Clubs' dominate the media landscape - often printing what they are told by state officials in exchange for access to high-level sources and press conferences.

I said 'I am not Abe'. It wasn't just a question of the hostage crisis - I was concerned that the wrong image was being spread about us Japanese. The notion that we wanted to take part in the fight. This isn't how the Japanese people think. They are of a different point of view to Abe.

Shigeaki Koga, a former commentator at Hodo station

But some journalists in Japan are standing up against an age-old media institution that forces them to write stories towing the government's line.

Despite convincingly winning December's snap election, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policies - known as Abenomics - have not been a runaway success and his plans to restart the country's nuclear industry are still overshadowed by the Fukushima disaster.

In January 2015, Abe pledged $200m in non-military aid to the countries fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East. Some Japanese believe that Abe's determination to play a role in the fight against ISIL threatens Japan's long-standing pacifist constitution.

But Japanese journalists have been, in the main, reluctant to embarrass their political leaders. Self-censorship is a problem in many countries, but in Japan, it goes one step further, into the realm of collective self-censorship.

So when a critic of Abe's policies on the Middle East appeared live on a mainstream news channel and declared "I am not Abe" it caused a national stir - and proved to be a bad career move.

The Listening Post's Will Yong reports on journalism in Japan and Shinzo Abe's 'medianomics'.

Source: Al Jazeera