The Bad News and the Good News
John de Boer (University of Tokyo)
This past week bore witness to an untold number of human tragedy stories in Japan. On Saturday night (September 1) towering flames burst through the walls of a building in Tokyo's prime entertainment district, trapping and killing forty-four people. On Monday (August 27), several of Japan's largest manufacturers announced their plans for restructuring, causing approximately 100,000 people to loose their jobs (see Media Review #11). On Wednesday (August 29) it was confirmed that Japan's unemployment rate had hit a record high of 5 per cent in July with 3.3 million people out of a job. Japan's market indexes continued to plummet throughout the week, as they saw no source of hope. A review of this week's news on Japan has confirmed the notion that trauma is as much a part of the human experience as is jubilation. Everybody knows this, yet everybody forgets the latter part of this sentence, for there remains much to be hopeful and joyful about.
In fact, this week started with a celebration as Japan's Little League baseball team returned home crowned as world champions. Japan's baseball legacy has gained the admiration of almost everybody in recent years as players such as Ichiro Suzuki continue to amaze baseball fans throughout the world. Despite this being his debut season in the Major League, Suzuki has become the first player to reach 200 hits this season. He is reaching new horizons, and providing dreams and inspiration for future generations.
Heralded, as Spain's "man of the day" on Tuesday (August 28) was Mitsushige Takechi, who drifted in the Pacific for a month before being rescued. His story of survival was declared a human triumph story symbolizing humankind's resilience and ability to overcome the toughest of circumstances.
Japan's aerospace program was also boosted to new heights after the H2A rocket launched successfully turning a new page in Japan's scientific endeavors. This accomplishment will no doubt lead to new discoveries and at minimum is certainly a source of pride for the Japanese people.
Baseball, survival on the high seas and rockets may not serve as sources of comfort for those who are bereaving the loss of their loved ones or to those who have become victims of the globalized economy. However, in times where either tedious business news, market indexes, stock market reports or unfortunately, tragic accidents capture most of the media's attention, readers appreciate finding news items that cover a larger spectrum of what Japanese society and people have accomplished.
- Mark Magnier, "Blaze Kills 44 in Tokyo's Adult District," Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2001
- "Japanese Electronics Groups Eyeing Major Job Cuts," Reuters, August 26, 2001
- "Companies swing jobs axe to save profits," Reuters, August 27, 2001
- "Unemployment reaches record high," The Asahi Shimbun, August 29, 2001
- "Japan Wins Little League World Series," Associated Press, August 27, 2001
- "Fisherman Missing for 33 Days Found," Associated Press and Washington Post, August 28, 2001
- Doug Struck, "Successful Launch Boosts Japan's Rocket Program," Washington Post, August 30, 2001