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Hi Blog. It’s been nearly two years since I wrote my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line; please subscribe) about the editorial swing over at The Japan Times. That text has been behind a paywall ever since. With the acknowledgment of SNA, I am now reprinting my columns in full on Debito.org after one year has passed since publication. Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the full article in the Debito.org original timeline. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019
On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…
[Miyake’s] half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.
The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.
Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light…
Full article text now archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=15541
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