Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tomoko Oji wins journalism prize for coverage of war on terror

Mainichi Shimbun reporter Tomoko Oji has been chosen as a co-winner of the 2010 Vaughn-Ueda international journalist prize, the prize's selection committee announced on March 7.

Oji, a reporter in the Mainichi's Foreign News Department, shared the prize with Kenji Minemura, an Asahi Shimbun correspondent in Beijing.

Oji, 45, was honored for her reporting in a series on the United States and the war on terror that started in February 2009. In the series Oji covered the front lines of the war from various angles, including work as an embedded journalist with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

In awarding Oji the prize, the selection committee said that the long-term news project that she had completed had shed light on the darker aspects of war. It also lauded her for an ongoing series in the Mainichi Shimbun titled "Media wars in an Internet age," which started in November 2009, saying she had delved into aspects of the U.S. media in a rapidly changing Internet era.

Minemura covered China's security policies, including the Chinese military's project to build an aircraft carrier and maritime strategies, as well as media restrictions. The prize committee said that he actively set about reporting on information relating to undisclosed government policies.

Oji entered the Mainichi Shimbun in 1989. After working at the Mainichi's Hanshin bureau and in the Sunday Mainichi Editorial Department, she joined the City News Department at the Mainichi's Tokyo Head Office. Between October 2006 and September 2010, she worked in the paper's North American Bureau, before moving to her current position in October 2010.

While Oji was in the City News Department, she produced scoops in 2002 and 2003 on the Defense Agency's illegal investigations of people who had requested the release of information, and the agency's illicit collection of personal information when seeking Self-Defense Force recruits. In both years she was awarded the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association prize -- Japan's top journalism award.

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