Got Questions About the Media in Japan? We’ve Got Answers!
Like other countries, Japan has a free press that operates as a “fourth estate” in addition to legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. I asked J-List’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers if they had any questions about the media in Japan, and here’s what we all came up with.
So tell us about the media in Japan.
The collective news media is known as マスコミ mass-komi, from “mass communications.” While newspapers are in decline in the U.S., here in Japan they still form the core of most media companies, which are still organized alongside their historic zaibatsu conglomerates that grew out of the Meiji Era. Everyone knows that the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper owns channel 4 (Nihon TV), while Nihon Keizai Shimbun owns channel 7 (TV Tokyo). In addition to several commercial media networks, there’s also NHK, Japan’s clone of “BBC-senpai.”
Is there bias in the news in Japan?
While Japanese news agencies try hard to maintain a high level of professionalism in their reporting, of course organizations are only human. Everyone knows that TV Asahi will tend to be critical of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and their pro-business policies, while Fuji TV will tend to be report favorably on what the government is doing, and Yomiuri will be somewhere in the middle.
Incidentally, to be “right leaning” in Japanese politics means to be pro-business, pro-agriculture — farmers make up a large amount of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s base — and supportive of the U.S. defense relationship and Imperial system. To be “left leaning” means to seek to support workers over companies, to be in favor of doing away with the role of the Emperor, and favoring alternatives to Japan’s close relationship with the U.S., though that’s not very tenable in these scary times.
Is Japan’s news media trusted? Is there fake news?
While the average Japanese trusts what is reported, there are holes in the system. One thing Japan’s media is excellent at is remaining silent on issues that might be important to society but which are taboo to discuss, such as anything related negatively to the Emperor or to an influential sect of Buddhism so powerful they have their own political party (unofficial, of course). When Google invented a system that let you overlay Edo Period maps on top of modern ones, it seemed pretty nifty…until net users pointed out that it was now easy to see which neighborhoods of Tokyo were historically occupied by buraku-min, the “untouchables” of old Japan, which were also found in Korea and other traditionally Buddhist societies. Although the subject was widely discussed online, the media remained silent because this topic is taboo.
There was a lot of criticism of the media in the aftermath of the 3/11/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Fukushima by net users who felt the coverage didn’t reflect the reality of how slowly the recovery was going or how strong the opposition to nuclear power was in Japan. The media is also regularly trashed as masu-gomi (“mass garbage”) by Internet users whenever news reporting critical of otaku culture surfaces.
Another part of the problem is the “Press Club” system, in which journalists are expected to belong to professional organizations in order to get full access to information. But this requires that they more or less agree to report facts in a certain way, or risk losing access to the Press Club. Happily, Japanese translations of English articles on Yahoo, MS-NBC and BBC have emerged as an an important alternate source for trustworthy news in recent years, the same way that many Americans consider the BBC a better news source to turn to than their own country’s.
Do they see a lot of news about America in their media?
Yes, events in the U.S. are reported closely by the media in Japan. And whenever a Donald Trump tweet becomes news, it’s blown up on a big card and translated into Japanese then discussed by commentators.
Does the Japanese media love scandals?
You bet. While corporate or government scandals are common occurrences, some that involve “talents” (famous entertainers) might come across as mindlessly cruel to us, like when former AKB48 member Minegishi Minami was lambasted for the crime of having a boyfriend, or when half-British actress Becky got caught stepping out with a married singer after repeatedly stating how she loved her career so much she’d never date. These scandals aren’t entirely the fault of the media, as Japanese fans can be quite unreasonable when they discover that their idols are human beings. Hirasawa Yui voice actress Toyosaki Aki had a similar experience when fans learned she lived with her boyfriend.
Currently the media in Japan is buzzing about actress Saito Yuki, famous as the star of the classic Sukeban Deka (High School Delinquent Detective), who was caught in an adulterous relationship. Kill la Kill is highly referential to this show, right down to a shot-for-shot remake of the ending, so if Matoi Ryuko has a real-life avatar, it’s Saito Yuki. The actress is doing her best to get through the media storm.
New 2018 Anime Calendars
In other news, 2018 Japanese calendar season is in full swing, and we’ve got hundreds of great anime calendars, traditional Japanese photo and art calendars, and sexy idol and JAV calendars for you, ready to preorder during our 30% Early Bird sale. We even have an article on our blog about the top 10 anime calendars so far this year. But wait! There’s more great news: we just posted the new art calendars for Japan’s top artists, including Kantoku, Coffee Kizoku and more! Browse them all here!
We’ve got more great news for you. One of the hugest and most excellent hentai game releases in years is coming, and our friends at JAST USA have let us know the game has gone Golden Master, and is being duplicated now! A massive strategy game in which you take over other powerful empires, Civilization style, you also get to do naughty things with famous characters like cute female versions of Napoleon, King Arthur, Billy the Kid and more. There’s still time to preorder the limited and artbook versions of the game before it ships!