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Home > Media Reiews > Other Review Last Updated: 14:56 03/09/2007
Other Review #36: May 6, 2004

Japan Media Review Update: May 6, 2004

JMR Staff (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California)

The following reviews are posted at:

Opinion: Asian Values Reflected in Japanese Media During Hostage Crisis
From The Japan Times: The key to understanding why Japanese hostages in Iraq received criticism instead of sympathy is in the "Asian values" of the media, observes columnist Tom Plate. While American media admire individualism and applaud "heroic" journalists who get a story in spite of danger, Japanese media outlets are more group-oriented with a hierarchical value system that defers to a central authority. In the hostage crisis, that authority was the government, which warned against going to Iraq. The people who became hostages in a sense disobeyed by going to Iraq anyway. Plate pointed out that the media "downplayed" the hostage crisis, leading to the people's lack of sympathy.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

Japan Leads Asian Nations in Press Freedoms
From The Korea Times: Japan ranks highest among Asian countries in the degree of freedom enjoyed by the press, according to an annual survey released by Freedom House. The U.S.-based human rights organization also ranked North Korea last in the world. Japan has an overall ranking of 33. European countries took the top seven spots, with Denmark, Iceland and Sweden tied for first place in the survey, which has used data from a variety of sources to track trends in world press freedom since 1980.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Koizumi's On-Camera Image Varies From the Image Reporters See
From The Asahi Shimbun: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi presents a different face to the Japanese public than to Japanese journalists, writes an Asahi Shimbun political reporter. On camera, Koizumi speaks articulately and openly, giving each question at least a cursory response. During off-camera news briefings, however, "he resorts to mumbling non sequiturs or simply brushes off reporters' questions." According to The Asahi Shimbun, Koizumi explained last year, "I am disgusted with recent news reports. They are worse than a window-dressing of news. There are many reports that are not true. I wonder why publishing and newspaper companies are able to write such lies."
-- By Japan Media Review Contributing Writer Sunny Yu

Former Hostages Rail Against Media
From Reuters: Two Japanese civilians who were taken hostage earlier this month in Iraq have lashed out at the Japanese media for their harsh coverage of the ordeal. Nobutaka Watanabe, 36, and Jumpei Yasuda, 30, said the media had parroted the government's assertion that the hostages were largely to blame for the crisis. "There is a tendency in Japan's media and all of Japanese society to go along with the government," Watanabe said in a press conference. Watanabe and Yasuda, a freelance photographer, were among several Japanese citizens taken hostage in early April by Iraqi militants seeking Japan's withdrawal of troops from the country. The first three Japanese hostages to be released have apologized for their actions. Mainstream media were openly critical of the hostages, with one tabloid suggesting that the kidnapping had been staged in an effort to force the government to recall its troops.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

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