Reporting japan.ppt4 ``Reporting Japan: A Foreign Jounalist's View''
A Foreign Journalist’s View
Deputy Editor, The Japan Times
Kansai University of Foreign StudiesKansai University of Foreign Studies
Sept. 16Sept. 16thth
, 2008, 2008
Who is the Foreign Media in Japan?
As of March, 2008, approximately 600 foreign
journalists are registered with Japan’s Foreign
Ministry. Majority are from the West and East Asia.
One unofficial estimate is that there are another 500
Westerners around Japan who write for foreign media
about various aspects of Japanese society and culture.
An unknown number of Japanese work for various
foreign media on a regular or semi-regular basis.
Major Foreign Media Outlets in Japan
Wire Services: Associated Press, Reuters, AFP,
Bloomberg Business News.
Television: CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS (America), BBC,
Reuters TV (England), Bloomberg (U.S., business
news), various European freelance film crews.
Newspapers: New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
London Times, Financial Times, The Australian and
Washington Post have full Tokyo bureaus. The
Guardian, The Independent, San Francisco
Chronicle, Singapore Straits-Times, South China
Morning Post, have freelance stringers.
FREELANCERS: Mostly newspaper and magazine
writers, freelancers tend to write for Japan’s English
language media or for overseas publications on
specialized aspects of Japanese culture (traditional
visual and performing arts, architecture, music (J-
SPECIALIZED MEDIA: Trade journalists who cover
one specific industry (autos, electronics, finance,
aviation, military issues, science issues)
3 daily newspapers (The Japan Times, The
Daily Yomiuri, the IHT-Asahi). Combined
circulation is roughly 120,000 daily.
Three major Internet News sites (Japan Today,
Japan Focus, and Mainichi Daily News).
Three major monthly magazines (Metropolis,
Kansai Out, Japanzine)
Various quarterly magazines: (Kyoto Journal,
English Language Media Coverage of
Japan: Common Traits
Vast majority of news stories and information on
Japanese politics and society originates with Kyodo,
AP, AFP, and Reuters wire service reports, or
translations of vernacular press or with Japanese
Virtually all English language journalism on Japan
originates in Tokyo, which means that for reporters,
editors, TV and radio producers, Tokyo = Japan.
The Four Foreign Media
Views/Stereotypes of Japan
(1) Technology Paradise
``Japan is the home to some of the world’s most advanced
technology. From cell phones to LCD television sets to hybrid
automobiles, to the coolest video games and anime, Japanese
firms like Sony, Toyota, Sharp, Sega, and a host of others
produce the world’s most innovative technology.’’
Major Media Promoting this View: Foreign wire services, a few
trade magazines for auto and electronic industries, a few
foreign TV stations, freelancers for Japan-based magazines and
(2) Economic Powerhouse
``Despite the rise of China and the ASEAN nations
over the past decade, Japan’s GDP, GNP and
economic standard of living remain unmatched.
Japan’s free market, democratic system means it will
continue to remain economically strong in years to
Major Media Promoting this View: U.S. business and
economic newspapers and magazines (Wall Street
Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week)
(3) War Criminal
``Since the end of the Cold War in Europe, Japan has
continued to swing to the right, politically. This,
combined with the country’s collective amnesia over
what it did to Asia during the first half of the 20th
century and it’s ongoing refusal to learn such history,
means that the world cannot really trust Japan’s
Major Media Promoting this View: Chinese and
Korean language media, bloggers, some European
newspapers, numerous scholarly journals, the
occasional U.S. or British U.S. newspaper.
Declining Regional Power
``Japan’s population will drastically shrink over the
next half century, and the country’s distrust of
foreigners means the Japanese people will not
welcome foreign immigration to help maintain GDP.
The U.S.-Japan military relationship is still vital, but,
as China and India rise, Japan will decline in
Major Media Promoting this View: Major U.S.,
British newspapers, TV stations, news magazines,
scholarly journals, bloggers. Some Chinese and
Korean language media.
Reporting in Japan: Good Points
Freedom of the Press in Japan is quite advanced.
According to a 2006 report by Reporters Without
Borders, Japan’s legal press freedoms are now
actually greater than those of the United States.
Japan is an advanced industrial society with the
world’s most time-efficient urban centers (train
system, strong work ethic)
Most Japanese generally have a favorable view
reporters, especially Western reporters.
Reporting in Japan: Bad Points
Japanese in positions of power often do not feel a
sense of responsibility to communicate as thoroughly,
timely, and effectively with foreign media compard to
officials in other advanced democracies.
The Japanese media too often distrusts the foreign
media and cooperation between Japan’s media and
the foreign media is not as broad as it should be.
The press club system.
How Foreign Media Often Sees
Mainstream Print Media Journalist =
Tabloid Journalist = Independent, Great
Storyteller, and Sometimes More Ethical than
Mainstream Media Journalist, but Take with a
Grain of Salt
Television Journalists = Good At Reporting
Basic Facts, Not as Good with Context,
Historical Background, or Diversity of Views.
Do Japanese Journalists Need Training
Before Becoming Journalists?
Professional Journalism Schools: Necessary or not?
Yes, say many American journalists familiar with
Japan. No, say journalists from other countries who
dislike American journalistic notions of
``objectivity’’. Perhaps, say some in the Japanese
MY VIEW: While U.S.-style journalism schools are
not needed, basic education in fact-gathering,
research, and logical analysis, debate, the basics of
modern history, Japan’s constitutional laws related to
freedom of speech, civics and the role of the
bureaucracy, and a course or two in communication is
very much needed.
Foreign mass media coverage of Japan’s domestic political,
social, and economic changes is likely to continue to decrease,
as China and India rise and as newsroom budgets worldwide
shrink, especially for foreign news.
The traditional foreign correspondents popularized in song and
story are becoming an endangered species. In their place, an
army of bloggers is arising.
Coverage of Japan’s role abroad might increase in specialized
media, as the world looks with a combination of fear and envy
Traditional media such as newspapers and magazines will
cover less straight news regarding Japan, and offer more
feature and background-type pieces. Specialization of media
covering Japan will continue.
Internet media, including Internet Radio and Internet
Television broadcasting, will become more respectable and
provide up-to-the minute information on Japan, but will
contain less in the way of deep analysis about topics not of
interest to those who are not ``Japan Hands’’ or are unwilling
to pay, in the form of advertising and subscriptions, for certain
kinds of information.
Reporting on Japan as a foreign correspondent is relatively
easy in terms of logistics, technology, and thanks to the
organizational ability of Japanese in general. The Japanese
language hinders foreign journalists from doing in-depth
reporting, but those who have at least an intermediate degree
of fluency seem to have few serious logistical problems.
Reporting on Japan as a foreign correspondent is relatively
difficult in terms of finding stories that will capture the
attention of editors who have the four basic views of Japan and
who have to consider space for stories coming out of China,
India, and the Middle East. The high cost of living and
working in Japan has hit foreign journalists here especially
hard, as travel and entertainment budgets get slashed.