Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)


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Hi Blog.  A couple of days ago I commented on an article in the Japan Times by a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomat and TV pundit Miyake Kunihiko (or “Kuni”, for gaijin ingratiation) who has a weekly JT space for his musings.  A pedigreed elite trained in international “Gaijin Handling”, Miyake clumsily talks about Japan’s race relations and multiethnic future by critiquing tennis champ Osaka Naomi’s “Japaneseness”.

My JT comment helped draw readers to the article, and I’ve just written my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line) about what Miyake’s article indicates in terms of the decline in the JT’s analytical abilities, as it swings rightward to knuckle under to revisionist pressure on Japanese media and curry favor with Japan’s elites.  It also cites other research from Reuters and the Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus).  Here’s an excerpt:


The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou

Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019
SNA (Honolulu) — 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…

Rest at


As Michael Penn at SNA notes, “I’m pleased to note that Debito Arudou has contributed his first article to the Shingetsu News Agency. Aside from being a strong article, it’s another step toward getting a wider range of writers taking advantage of our progressive news media platform.”  Other writers and investigators, please feel free to pitch something to SNA as well.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.


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11 comments on “Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

  • Congrats on your first feature article at the Shingetsu News Agency.

    Do you think that your most recent Just Be Cause article (i.e. Top Ten Issues that Affected NJ Residents in 2018) is the end of the road with the Japan Times?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Great article Dr. Debito!
    And reading other articles at SNA seems to show that they aren’t beholden to anyone’s agenda and are telling it like it is! I like it!
    I hope you can become a regular contributor there, and say goodbye to Japan Times, taking your page clicks with you!
    Let Japan Times become another echo-chamber for the rightwing minority. Resident NJ will just laugh and pass it, and any English speaking NJ globally who come across it will simply be turned off Japan by its rampant nationalism. Case in point, look at its comments moderation; some stuff that would be considered as hate-speech in the real world is left up, while comments calling out the shamelessly cheerleading pro-Japan fluff are deleted and comments sections closed. That’s not going to attract new readers nor keep any current ones.

  • OK article. I thought your critique of Miyake’s’ asinine article in the commentary box of the Japan Times was much better. You shouldn’t hold your punches next time. Sometimes you’re wrong in your observations, but nobody could accuse you of not believing in what you say and being beholden to any outside interest or group; unlike the present editorial board of The Japan Times and Mr. Miyake.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I feel it really well that newspapers and media become nothing more than a mouthpiece or stooge of propagandistic regime when they receive fundings from powerful financial brokers or state regime. It’s quite similar to what’s happening to some mainstream left media such as NBC/CNN right now. In the last couple of years since 2016, they have been criticized for spreading misleading/false information about Russia (i.e., claiming Russian intrusion into an electric power grid or news websites without any credible evidence, labeling anyone disagreeing with them as Russian stooge). And now, because of their cozy tied-up with CIA/NSA elites, NBC is hurting its journalistic integrity and news report as they are now becoming national intelligence’s mouthpiece to please central Democrats establishment and their wealthy donors. I love to watch NBC news, but I am getting disappointed since the hiring of a notorious Megyn Kelly. And they have been making Kremlin Conspiracy drama (e.g. Paul Manafort meeting with Julian Assange, a recent polar vortex manufactured by Russia, and Russian hackers tying with a Hawaiian Democrat Tulsi Gabbard) to boost their rating by sacrificing their quality journalism since Trump took office. I learn that this type of low-brow propaganda comes from Rachel Maddow’s Show or other daily news.

    So what can we learn from this? It’s all about money and power grab. Money from powerful national elites, think-tanks, billionaires, and/or big corporations hurt the integrity of media and journalism, regardless of political views.

    So, yes, what we are seeing in the Japan Times is quite similar to what is going on with MSNBC/CNN today. I wish I would see the The Intercept Japan some days, should the government/right-wing national deformer/revisionist institutions sweep away investigative journalism from Japan’s English news media landscape, entirely.

  • So Mizuno, the chief editor at Japan Times, wants to court government ad money by only printing pro-government news.

    So let it be known.

  • “Miyake then declares that “Japan is learning lessons as well,” noting how it is becoming a multiracial and multicultural society—to the point where sometimes “Japanese nationals are minorities.” But he still can’t help adding that tinge of fear of being outnumbered.”

    So it seems he is confusing nationality with race and culture. He says there are many “ethnicities”, so “Japanese nationals” could be outnumbered (and attacked? what is he implying?) But what is stopping those Japanese nationals from also being multiethnic? Nothing of course. A pretty common mistake in Japan, but if he is still at that level of lack of knowledge, how could he possibly think that he has anything to say worth listing to? I don’t get it.

  • Dr. Jeff Kingston comments on the Japan Times’ rightward swing in East Asia Forum:

    Media ethics betrayed in Japan
    12 February 2019
    Author: Jeff Kingston, Temple University Japan

    Imagine that the editorial page of The New York Times suddenly shifted dramatically rightward and columnists critical of US President Donald Trump were ousted and replaced by sycophantic pundits. Then a tape emerges of the editor justifying these changes as intended to counter accusations that the newspaper is anti-American and the sacking of Trump debunkers as designed to boost government ad revenue and snag an interview with Trump. This is essentially what recently happened at The Japan Times…

  • Louis Carlet says:

    I would like to talk about Japan Times’s rightward shift, particularly the effective spiking of Hifumi’s column
    . When you have time…

    • AnonymousOG says:

      Just FYI for new readers: Louis Carlet is a rightfully-well-respected-for-his-character-and-actions friend of Debito’s, and I for one would very much love to have the chance to ponder any thoughts and insights which Mr. Carlet would be kind enough to freely share here at Much respect and gratitude. 🙂


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