Japan’s Right-wing swing taking on NJ media: Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges

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Hi Blog. As Japan’s right-wing swing begins to be noticed and acknowledged overseas (I predicted this swing would happen quite a while ago), foreign media are increasingly taking off the kid gloves, and dealing forcefully with Japan’s perpetual historical amnesia. So much so that it’s making some Japanese opinion leaders uncomfortable, and, as the article below attests, they’re pushing back against the apparent gaiatsu by claiming the foreign correspondents are succumbing to “propaganda”. Have a read.

Within, note how opportunist NJ panderer Henry Scott-Stokes is being tossed around like a ball in play as evidence of something (hey, revisionism has more credibility if someone, anyone, from the NJ side will parrot their views). Debito.org has already covered the profiteering that some NJ (particularly those who have no idea what has been written for them in Japanese) will engage in. Shame on them for becoming the monkey to the organ grinder.

As a bracing counterpose, check out this other extremely angry article by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent on the Abe Administration and Japan’s burgeoning (and hypocritical) revisionism; he’s clearly commenting outside of his comfort zone, but this is what will increasingly come out as the mask of “peaceful Western ally” that Japan’s elites have shamelessly worn for two generations continues to slip.  And this generation of elites, who have never known war (and will never have to serve even if there ever is one), will continue to extol the glory of it.  Arudou Debito


Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 10, 2014, courtesy of MS

TOKYO — In his “East Asia Anemometer” (an anemometer is a device for measuring wind speed) column for the Sankei Shimbun column of March 29, Takao Harakawa accused foreign correspondents based in Tokyo of harboring “blind belief” in the anti-Japanese propaganda being generated by China and South Korea. He bases this on his observations from a recent press conference that in his view descended into a “blame-Japan” fest.

China, he alleges, has ordered its embassies in various countries to engage in a worldwide campaign to criticize prime minister Abe for visiting Yasukuni Shrine last December. And South Korea recently went so far as to use the venue of an international comic exhibition to lambaste Japan over the sex-slave (“comfort women”) issue.

These two neighboring countries’ persistent efforts to discredit Japan, suggests Harakawa, may finally be starting to show results, as the press event held in mid-March at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Yurakucho, Tokyo, turned into a one-sided affair.

The event was intended to publicize the activities by a delegation of Japanese legislators in local government assemblies who had visited Glendale, California to protest Korean lobbyists’ installation of a statue of a comfort woman in a public park.

But when it came time for questions, Harakawa didn’t like the tone of the reporters at all.

“During the war, Korean laborers worked in the coal mines in Oita prefecture. Do you think they were sent there forcibly or not?” was one question.

“We’re not here today to discuss laborers, this is a press conference about ‘sex slaves,’” replied Yoshiko Matsuura, a councilor in the Suginami assembly, in an attempt to deflect his question.

Matsuura pointed out that the 1993 “Kono Statement” apologizing to the sex slaves was based on “completely vague testimony, and also noted that as a result of the controversy there, Japanese children residing in Glendale had been subjected to “bullying and harassment” by Korean children.

“The statue of the ‘comfort woman’ erected in Glendale will leave a huge bill to be paid in the future,” she warned.

The questions fired back by the correspondents in attendance, however, were “conspicuous in the way they were either based on insufficient understanding or bias.”

Another correspondent’s remarks that “You’re saying that the ‘sex slaves’ are a fabrication, but as opposed to merely making that statement, how many facts are there to support it? Presently Japan is continuing to lose sympathy throughout the world,” is given as another example.

Tomoko Tsujimura, a member of the Komae City assembly who also attended the gathering, was quoted as saying “Since the Japanese government is not completely responding [to the allegations], Japan’s position is being outweighed by propaganda from South Korea, and I feel the foundations have been laid for many members of the foreign media to harbor feelings of disgust toward Japan.”

After the event, Kawahara said a sympathetic foreign journalist said to him, “Today’s event was not to ask questions to you, but to cast blame on Japan.”

In the background of the journalists’ mindset, believes Harakawa, was a viewpoint echoing the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Details from the press event have appeared in the online versions of TIME magazine and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Neither of them were inclined to support Matsuura’s views. TIME’s reporter even wrote that the speakers’ efforts to take the offensive over the sex slave issue was “likely to do them more harm than good.”

Interpreter at the event was Hiroyuki Fujita, an international journalist and translator of Henry Scott-Stokes’ recent book (in Japanese) titled, “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist.”

“Foreigners, especially citizens of the Allied nations (during WW2), tend to view the historical truth in terms of judgments handed down by the Tokyo war crimes tribunal,” said Fujita. “According to that view, Japan must be the villain, and anyone who attempts to assert something at odds with that is stereotypically tarred as a revisionist who is attempting to gloss over history. One of the very few correspondents who’s an exception to this would be Mr Henry Scott-Stokes, who has really done his homework on the issues.”

Japan faces an urgent need to assume a state of readiness to counter propaganda from China and Korea, including additional budgetary measures for issuing information, Harakawa concludes.


22 comments on “Japan’s Right-wing swing taking on NJ media: Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges

  • “Foreigners, especially citizens of the Allied nations (during WW2), tend to view the historical truth in terms of judgments handed down by the Tokyo war crimes tribunal,” said Fujita. “According to that view, Japan must be the villain, and anyone who attempts to assert something at odds with that is stereotypically tarred as a revisionist who is attempting to gloss over history. One of the very few correspondents who’s an exception to this would be Mr Henry Scott-Stokes, who has really done his homework on the issues.”
    – So Hiroyuki Fujita, who translated Henry Stokes (revisionist) book, is calling the establishment revisionists…
    – He is taking 70 years of established history, and turning it on its head.
    – If you believe what was determined to be true by thousands of allied lawyers at an officially sanctioned tribunal, you are wrong.
    – Conversely, if you believe what Henry Stokes wrote, you are right!
    yeah, sure.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I thought that the Fisk article was pretty good. He’s just telling the truth,and it’s high time more journalists outside of Japan did the same! Hats off to him!

    As for the article above, I’m sure that reading it in translation would astound most westerners who have had no personal contact or interest in Japan. However, for those of us that have lived here, we know only too well how widely held such distorted world views are.

    We can do a check list with that article of revisionist delusions and bad logic;

    1. Deflect the question? Check!
    2. Accuse opposition of having an ‘incorrect view of history’? Check!
    3. Blame this incorrect view on the Chinese and Koreans? Check!
    4. Paint Japan as the victim? Check!
    5. Sympathetic uncle-Tom NJ? Check!
    6. Use Japan’s ‘victimization’ as rationale for moves to further alienate the neighbors? Check!

    We predicted all of these developments here at Debito.org over a year ago.
    As more and more western journalists speak out, and the Japanese feel more insecure, I expect we’ll see the right-wing (the general population IMHO) push back even harder with such disgusting words and actions, that will only serve to lower Japan even further in the eyes of the world- the exact opposite effect to that which the right-wing desires.

    Prediction; As the ‘war of opinions’ between Japan and the outside world grows in the press and increases Japanese frustrations, I expect there to be more random aggression against NJ in Japan. I shouldn’t be surprised if eventually we see protests against Americans (since the article is spreading the idea that Glenndale residents are bullying local Japanese) in the same way we see anti- resident Korean protests. I predict it’s only a matter of time until some unfortunate white guy is assumed to be American and beaten or worse by a right-wing bunch of crazies (‘I can’t believe I killed a gaijin’, anyone remember that Nepalese guy in Osaka?).

    Should be interesting to see how this plays out with the Olympics coming!

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Oh, and by the way, the ridiculous article above isn’t going to help (if you haven’t experienced this yet, brace yourself!) the opinion that I believe the Japanese widely hold, that an NJ they don’t know personally is an ‘evil criminal, undermining Japanese values and culture’), and any NJ that they do know personally is, by virtue of living in Japan automatically in total and full agreement with all right-wing (although, to be honest, at this point shouldn’t we be saying ‘mainstream’?) delusions and lies regarding Japanese war-crimes, Japanese wartime aggression, and Yasakuni.

    Test my assertion, if you don’t believe me. Ask some people you think you know well, and who respect you (maybe you even think they are ‘international’), what they think about Japan’s war-crimes, and don’t pull any punches, or fool yourself that you’re being impolite by asking the question (after all, I did say people you know well), and watch the go through the following chain of actions;

    1. Avoidance; they will try to change the question. Keep asking, and you will get;
    2. Deflection; they will say that all countries did similar things. Hit them with some facts, and keep going, and you will get;
    3. Inverted reality; Japan as victim, Chinese and Korean propoganda, Hiroshima. Give them more facts;
    4. Now they will lose any semblance of tatemae, and you will see this persons most honest thoughts, ‘If you hate Japan so much, go home!’

    Try it to believe it. Don’t be loud and angry, be polite and calm. They will collapse into racism in 5 mins or less.

  • Not sure how available it is worldwide, but BBC Newsnight (UK) ran a piece covering these issues this Tuesday. I was pleasantly suprised as Newsnight is as mainstream as it gets outside of the 6 and 10 O’clock bulletins and its been a fairly packed week for domestic news.

    Newsnight rarely runs a one off, I imagine they will monitor the issue fairly closely and there will be more to come in the future. Especially as the Olympics draw closer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b040bz7d/Newsnight_08_04_2014/ around 38min in. I would imagine only for the UK though.

    — Only available for viewers in the UK, I’m afraid. Synopsis?

  • Wouldn’t want to get your hopes up as I couldn’t get it to work with a .jp proxy (possibly due to bandwith), but the Newsnight report was also posted here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26949893

    It was a ten minute segment at the end of the program by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, mainly focusing on Abe’s desires to re-militarise. Yasukuni, constitutional change and the rightward/nationalistic shift were all covered against the backdrop of rising Sino-Japanese tensions.

    They had some dialog with Koichi Nakano of Sophia Uni, who gave an account of Abe’s revisionism as ‘adding fuel to the fire’ of Sino-Japanese relations.

    Nobuo Kishi then had a brief few lines framing the push for constitutional revision/change as a push towards normalcy.

    Most interestingly IMO, they covered the ‘introduction of new school textbooks that leave out Japans wartime atrocities’, with an Okinawan schoolteacher; Kunio Ohara, whose school is resisting the introduction of newly recommended textbooks. He claimed that the texts ‘stirred up nationalism’ and were intended to ‘condition the children to the idea of a strong military’.

    Nothing we don’t already know and would have been great if they had connected the Urawa incident to the political discourse. However the platform is significant. I’d be less encouraged if it were shown on an obscure cable channel. Newsnight is pretty much the most respected current affairs program, shown daily on one of only five terrestrial channels and with a large viewership.

  • The BBC does a good job covering Japan. I never figured out why, unless they still have fresh memories of the war (SG) etc. I see little coverage by and US media of Japan. I have seen some outstanding work done by the BBC.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I think the following quotes explain everything about the insular characteristics of Japanese public discourse:

    “… there are now two accounts of Japanese achievement, an internal account in Japanese, and external accounts in various languages but prominently in English that do not seem to see eye to eye. One factor undoubtedly is because the internal debates are taking place in a language few outside of the country can understand. Thus, outsiders cannot directly enter into the debate scene as another player; just as most Japanese do not read the scholarship about Japanese education in English, so they do not adopt the Western framework in their discourse.” (p. 389)

    Ryoko Tsuneyoshi, “The New Japanese Educational Reforms and the Achievement “Crisis” Debate,” Educational Policy, 18, no.2 (May 2004): 364-394.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Debito,

    For those readers not living in the UK, here is the Newsnight report on Japan that Mr.P mentioned.
    All of Newsnight’s feature reports can be found on the BBC News website, since Newsnight is the BBC’s premier nightly news show.


    It’s a good report that absolutely damns Abe and revisionism in a way I hadn’t seen until I read The Independent article that Debito posted a link to yesterday.
    It does indeed seem that the tide of opinion held about Japan by the international media, has turned.

  • @Dean (#8) I suspect the reason for the US being so mum about Japan (yet nearly not as mum as up to recently, as they did express disappointment about Abe’s Yasukuni visit) is that they still cling to the geopolitical strategy and thinking and they need Japan as a first line of defence against China.

    This post-WWII strategy is the sole reason that us post-war generations have grown up seeing Japan as a democracy and pacifist nation. Without the US spin doctors who managed to sell a myth about this country as a trustworthy friend, I don’t think many of us would have ever ended up in Japan. I’m the first to admit that I was very misguided about this place, even though I thought I read the right books and articles before moving.

    It’s also the reason why culture shock for Western people in Japan hits especially hard – the reality of a technologically advanced nation that is run by a shadow organisation (the LDP / DPJ / Yakuza / Keidanren complex) mainly consisting of extreme nationalists who seem to have no natural aversion against fascist, totalitarian, and racist ideas has shaken my believe that the world is generally on the road to peace at its most basic foundations.

    I would love to know how the US really thinks about Japan’s power structures and ulterior motive. There must be some clever people who are able to see what the average expat is able to see after living in Japan for half a year. But for some reason, they for now are choosing to stick with the script and sell this country to the world as “the good guy in East Asia”.

    The Europeans are not that entangled with Japan, especially not politically. That’s why the European media might be more encouraged to look behind the facade.

  • Steve Jackman says:

    @Markus (#11): I enjoyed reading your excellent post above. I believe we Americans have been brainwashed by a small group of vested interests inside America to always see Japan through rose tinted glasses. I too was disillusioned when I moved to Japan from the U.S, since Japan has fallen far short of the expectations and image of this country that I was led to believe back in America.

    I think the fact that Japan hosts some of the largest American military bases is a factor behind the positive spin which the American government, the military, arms manufacturers, defense contractors and their lobbyists seem to put on all things Japan-related.

    Another reason is that many people in America, including some diplomats, State Department officials, pundits, lobbyists, academics and think tanks have based their careers around China-bashing. It helps their case to propogate a highly idealized, yet false, version of Japan, so they can draw comparisons behind the supposedly democratic, capitalist, noble and highly civilized country that is Japan, to the backward, human rights violating communist country that is China. China is the new whipping boy for these people after the fall of the Soviet Union, so they take every opportunity to pump up Japan at the expense of China.

    As a patriotic American, I think these people are doing a disservice to the U.S, since it results in the U.S giving Japan a free pass to engage in human rights violations, discrimination, racism, xenophobia, nationalism, regional and geopolitical destabilization, unfair trade practices and closed markets for American companies, goods and services.

    America hurts its own interests by being on the wrong side of history. Some of these vested interests seem to believe that if the U.S uses its strong alliance with Japan to be tough on China, that China will crumble the way the Soviet Union did. This is a huge mistake, since China is no Soviet Union. I am by no means a fan of China and many of its policies, but I am also a realist. China’s rise is unstoppable, whereas, Japan’s best days may very well be behind it unless it undertakes drastic reforms (this is highly unlikely). It behooves the U.S to be more realistic and pragmatic in its dealings with Japan, and to hold Japan accountable for its actions.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @Marcus, excellent analysis and comment. Isnt it strange (and convenient) how Japan was suddenly recast as a “western” country after WW2.

    US spin doctors have a lot to answer for. They even spun that the USSR was a “democracy just like the USA” in WW2- source, “the Soviet union in maps” (1944).

    So the whole “the good guy in East Asia” spiel worked well in the cold war, it still works partially vis a vis China but falls down completely when fellow US ally S Korea-now an arguably more democratic state than Japan-starts winning the moral high ground.

    The claim of Korean “propaganda” especially rings hollow, the word ” propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples (e.g. Nazi propaganda used to justify the Holocaust) ” yet
    ” The main difficulties have involved differentiating propaganda from other types of persuasion, and avoiding an “if they do it then that’s propaganda, while if we do it then that’s information and education” biased approach.” (wiki)

    which is exactly what Tomoko Tsujimura is somewhat childishly doing here- a petty, tit for tat propaganda war in which both sides arguably cherry pick or omit information.

    Except that it is Japan that is ironically the side creating the real “propaganda”, so Tsujimura having the nerve to label this as S Korean “propaganda” is laden with an irony and fascist connotations she is too in denial to see.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ jim the Japanese widely hold, that an NJ they don’t know personally is an ‘evil criminal, undermining Japanese values and culture’), and any NJ that they do know personally is, by virtue of living in Japan automatically in total and full agreement with all right-wing (although, to be honest, at this point shouldn’t we be saying ‘mainstream’?)

    Personally, from day 1 in Japan, even before, many Japanese I met, even my gf, would say things like “there are foreign criminals, I dont mean you, you are OK”. This was in 1989 or so.

    Fast forward to 2010 or so, and when I might comment on e.g. someone clutching their handbag in irrational fear when they saw my foreign face, people still say things like “there are many foreign criminals, but actually I think you are the kind of cute, harmless, foreigner that We Japanese tend to like ,so do not worry Perpetual Outsider of 20 years”.

    Great. So my lack of rights in Japan as an NJ is balanced out by my cuteness and by virtue of not being too tall,and thus because the Japanese Public do not feel too much “fuan” or anxiety by my appearance, I am graciously allowed to exist if I keep quiet and do not really do anything in Japan, probably free from arrest?

    Perhaps not arbitrary as China’s police state (ha!) but far closer to it than being a “western good guy of Asia”.

  • @Markus,

    Your analysis is always spot on, I couldnt agree with you more. There are some good books on Japans reverse course, and some Japanese have told me everyone learns about this in school in Japan. I do believe those in power in the US know well about this, but dont see it as any threat or priority. For us expats that “endure” it, well, its on us, as we choose to live here. Japan lacks any real clout to be a menace to the world again; they can only harass domestic foriegners and work themselves into the occasional frenzy over some issue.

  • @Dean(#15) Oh, please do give me some titles of the books you are referring to. But I disagree that Japan lacks potential to be “a menace”. It is very hard to imagine now and so far there are only rumours of Japan having a a secret nuke program, but what has really changed since the beginning of the Meiji era, when Japan was seen also seen as a friendly, yet opaque nation? Up to Pearl Harbour, it wasn’t imaginable that Japan would be ready to go *that* crazy and suicidal.

    But there are still those elements in Japan that see the nation as superior to all others and the Japanese race as masters of the globe, and I would speculate that such elements are closer to actual power in Japan than in any other country in the world, save China and the both Koreas. If they one day do get into power, we could very well see a nuclear Pearl Harbour-like attack.

    Who actually has power in China, and what those people’s ultimate goals are, is not really know, and the same is true for South Korea, where “noble families (Chaebol)” run the society including the political parties very similarly to Japan.

    I think the most honest system in East Asia is North Korea. They haven’t been westernised at all yet, so they make no efforts to hide the actual power structures behind a “theatre of democracy”.

    Japan’s theatre is the most elaborate simply because after WWII they were the first to realise that the only way into geopolitical power was to pretend they were on the road to democracy so they could become trade partners with the rich nations. South Korea had another war to go through, but caught up quickly. China is still in the early stages but seems to want to do the same.

    The really interesting question is, who are the people who really run these countries, and what are their goals? I fear that for all three countries, it still is world domination. Japan sees that its time is running out with China becoming more powerful every day. That’s why we see the extremist wing of their shadow organisation become busier over the last couple of years. What we see might be a last ditch effort to give Japan its “deserved place” before it is too late.

    I know I am drawing highly speculative, bleak scenario. But having lived in East Asia, I’ve realised that this part of the world (and thanks to nuclear weapon technology, the rest of it as well), is still at the mercy of just a bunch of families whose motivations and ideologies are opaque, but would probably best be described as corporatist totalitarianism with barely concealed undertones of racial superiority.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #17,

    Re; Girl und Panzer, and why in German?

    Off the cuff, I’d say that the SDF is attempting an extension of the re-branding effort that saw Morning Musume appear in posters along with Japan’s aircraft carrier (oops, I mean helicopter carrying disaster relief ship), over 10 years ago (anyone remember that? Dr. Hugo Dobson wrote a paper that touched on it).

    Anyway, it’s one thing to ‘cute-up’ the disaster relief aspect (which until Abe was all the public would stomach), but it’s a branding strategy that’s likely to fall on its face with a public ramped up on the fear factor of China; the phantom menace. After all, what kind of potential recruits are they trying to attract? Otaku with a school girl fetish? Gee, are they in for a shock when they meet the Drill Sergeant (never mind the Chinese attack!)!

    And that’s what the anime is- cashing in on puerile fetishes of those who are frightened by real women, and those who have never lost a loved one in a war (and believe me, that’s an experience that takes the glamor out of ‘big boys toys’ pretty quickly).
    I’m sure the Chinese recruits will be having a good laugh about this, and when that hits the internet, the Japanese will feel pretty embarrassed for the SDF.

    Abe, Ishihara, et al must be in despair that instead of SDF ranks filled with ‘pure’ and ‘virtuous’ men, they are presiding over a regional hike in tensions whilst the SDF is desperate to recruit spotty youths with schoolgirl fetishes.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, I see something more sinister/thoughtless about “girl und panzer”- its nazi chic that occasionally pops up in Japan; saw a geek in nazi gear being stopped by the police a couple of years back- a good police action I thought at the time (or maybe it was for his own protection as the “violent looking gaijin” (me) was glaring at him. Oh the fuan…

    Anyway, South China Morning Post picked up the article about Abe’s rebranding of the SDF. Dont have link, sorry.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #20,

    For sure, it’s as sinister as hell for a country trying its best to convince the world that the Nanking massacre ‘never happened’, and the Korean sex-slaves ‘is a lie’, to market the SDF in terms of cute young girls!

  • Anti-Japanese? I know of too many Japanese patriots, the Emperor first among them, who’s idea of patriotism is to get rid of all this revisionism and truly start creating a better Japan, one that CAN get along with other people.

    This group of conservatives doesn’t represent anything but their own petty, narrow-minded and arguably treasonous ideas.

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