Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

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Hi Blog.  An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid.  He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative.  He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working:  Sales of the scandalous Shuukanshi Weeklies are significantly down across the board.  Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it.  It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

Probably one of the best articles the Japan Times will put out this year, already appearing.  Excerpt germane to Debito.org follows, but do read the whole thing. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Inflammatory articles aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
BY MARK SCHREIBER
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 28, 2015

In a controversial column by 83-year-old author Ayako Sono that appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of the Sankei Shimbun under the headline “Maintain a ‘suitable distance,’” Sono suggested that when and if Japan changes its immigration policies to accept more foreign workers, they should live in racially segregated areas.

Remarks on the article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.

The magazine also asked the participants if they agreed that foreign blue-collar workers should be admitted in greater numbers to cope with labor shortages. As opposed to 7.8 percent who said they agreed and 27.5 percent who agreed to some extent, 41.8 percent were opposed to some extent, and 22.8 percent were opposed outright.

Interestingly, the age segment that most strongly opposed the acceptance of foreign workers for nursing care services (and the only segment that provided a majority response) was respondents in their 30s, 53 percent of whom said they’d prefer to avoid non-Japanese nurses. From its in-house survey results — the rather small number of subjects notwithstanding — Weekly Playboy concludes that the Japanese still have a deeply rooted “allergy to foreigners.”

Rest of the article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/28/national/media-national/inflammatory-articles-arent-helping-mags-circulation-numbers/

2 comments on “Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

  • Media circulation numbers are down in general, I suppose, it’s not surprising (or a particularly japanese thing) that in this structural race to the bottom some publications seek to increase their “edge” with inflammatory articles (you know what they say about any good publicity), where you can milk the outrage twice (first from the people who agree with you, second from the people who disapprove – the important thing is it keeps people in general talking about you, and this coverage makes you at least feel relevant, even when the sales numbers don’t add up anymore). What’s the japanese word for Clickbait, basically? That’s not to say that Sono doesn’t truly believe what she wrote, or that a sizable contingent of the population doesn’t believe the same (see the polls quoted), just that the way these kinds of issues are played out in the media narrative is so predictably manufactured, it’s almost boring. I’d like to think sales numbers are down because people are getting bored of the 2minute-hate too, but more likely they’re simply getting their fix just elsewhere (online, along with the rest of the massconsumer tittytainment).

    The author of the JT article brings up a point about how the western press pounced on the segregation article while the magazine runs way more regular Nanking-denying articles without this reaction – well, because (sadly, almost) “regular” is the operative word here, have we kinda gotten too used to the historical revisionism that it’s not even “news” anymore (frog, meet pot?) There surely must be a japanese analogue concept to “outrage fatigue”, because you really need it to keep your sanity in this place.

    Reply

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