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Tue 4 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Al Jazeera opens bureau in Japan

Al Jazeera has opened a bureau in Japan as part of its efforts to boost global coverage.

Arab satellite channel, Al Jazeera, has opened a bureau in Japan as part of its efforts to boost global coverage. The Doha-based television station already has offices in Beijing, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

"It's a very important step for us to reach out to Asia. The image of Japan in the Arab world is very positive and I think we can learn a lot from the Japanese," director general Waddah Khanfar said at an Arab-Japanese media symposium organised by Al Jazeera. "Media ethics, war reporting and reporting … it's important to advance this discussion, especially now that we have come under heavy criticism," said Khanfar, referring to US-led charges of bias.

"What is professionalism, what is objectivity when you are talking about war reporting?" asked the channel's former Baghdad bureau chief, urging efforts to draw up ethical guidelines for Arab journalists.

Japan's foreign ministry director general for press, Hatsuhisa Takashima, brushed off concerns about Al Jazeera's controversial coverage, telling AFP "they helped us a lot" during the recent hostage crisis in Iraq.

Al Jazeera’s Tokyo bureau currently has three staff and will be given technical assistance from Japan's NHK television for the first three months. Al Jazeera is also opening bureaux in Africa and South America and pushing ahead with themed channels.

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