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Hi Blog. Here’s something for the undergraduates taking classes on critical thinking and government censorship to write a midterm essay on:
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put up a website that enables anyone to submit to the government “information about any accounts in overseas [media] relating to our country that is based on misunderstandings of the truth/facts (jijitsu), or is incompatible with our country’s standpoint.”
Here are some essay writing prompts. Discuss:
- Why is the Japanese government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, getting involved in policing foreign media? Are they the new international media police?
- Why is there an assumption that “our country” has a defined “standpoint” that uniformly faces the rest of the world? And whose “truth” is this?
- Where did the line-item budget come from to pay these MOFA bureaucrats to act as the media police? Don’t they have enough on their plate already managing, y’know, our country’s diplomacy?
Actually, I might be able to answer the third one. There’s a political dimension to all this. Check out this tweet from SNA on Dietmember Onoda Kimi:
Yeah, we’ve talked about Onoda Kimi before. She’s the American-born former dual-national American-Japanese MP who advocates for antiforeigner public policy that would go against her foreign father’s interests. As I wrote for SNA back in 2020:
You can see how deep the pathology runs in Kimi Onoda, LDP Upper House Diet Member from Okayama. She similarly insinuated on March 30 that government subsidies should be denied Non-Japanese residents. But this is stunningly ironic because she was born in America to an American father. She even held American nationality until 2016 (when she was ratted out and gave it up), meaning she too was a foreigner in Japan.
That’s how deep Japan’s dehumanizing antibodies run — where even a self-hating haafu would effectively deny equal treatment to her own father! What immense psychological scars from childhood bullying have prompted her to deny any ties to her minority origins, and to pander for the approval of majority whim that Non-Japanese Residents belong on a separate and unequal tier in society?
If we ever meet, one question I’d like to ask is, “Who hurt you?”
Anyway, good job, Onoda Kimi. Mission accomplished.
Actually, what MOFA is doing is very much within the Japanese Government (GOJ)’s character anyway. The GOJ is very sensitive to how they are perceived abroad, historically stepping in many times to “correct misperceptions” in foreign media. See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example. (And it’s a stark contrast to, for example, the Americans, who ignore outright disinformation even when it affects their own citizens abroad.)
Granted, compared to the US’s negligence (even making outright threats against their US citizens for not ignoring racial discrimination in Japan), I’d rather that a government step in to correct public misperceptions when their citizens abroad stand to get hurt. But I’m also suspicious of the GOJ’s motives, as evidenced by the links above, as their “standpoint” towards historical and “factual” interpretation is riddled with ahistorical revisionism.
Moreover, asking for the public’s participation like this is redolent of the “Snitch Sites” the Immigration Bureau deployed in 2004, so that anyone could anonymously sicc the GOJ on any foreigner they thought could be an “illegal” — much to the delight of all the Zainichi Korean haters out there.
In sum, this “MOFA foreign media policing site” is yet another politically-motivated government-sponsored website that is encouraging online abuse and feeding the trolls. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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15 comments on “Ministry of Foreign Affairs sets up “foreign media policing website” where anyone can report to J govt any foreign info “incompatible with our country’s standpoint”. Actually, quite within character.”
Well, this will be interesting.
Let’s see if there are enough bilingual bureaucrats to even read the sites reported to them, and what hideous misunderstandings occur when all these foreign sites are subjected to Google Translate. Ought to cause no end of international embarrassment.
Mind you, whilst this could just be the ignorant idea of a blue-blood/right wing nutter in the LDP who has never used a computer (looking at you IT Minister!) and has no conception of;
A) How vast the internet is, and,
B) Japan has no legal leg to stand on when it comes to websites hosted in countries with freedom of speech,
and thought that this looked good on paper (and it would have been paper, hot off the fax machine because TIJ), does anyone remember the link I posted on Debito.org a couple of years back where the LDP proposed that Japan should have nuclear weapons and other strike capabilities because it would enable Japan to ‘correct misunderstandings about Japanese history’.
Wish I had that link now.
It’ll probably go the same way as Japan’s International sushi standards policing effort- big announcement, then nothing. Because the people who think these things up are several generations removed from real life.
I’m gonna report debito.org just for fun.
They are just a joke, they cant possibly have any power to take down any site.
What a sick idea. I swear Japan is far, far closer to the mindset of North Korea than people realize with some of this behavior.
So what‘s the point of this? You report some website and then what? It‘s not like they can do anything, like take the website down or something. The only thing that will happen is the reported websites will end on blacklist of some LDP oyaji, big deal. What a great way to spend tax money again. This literally looks like when China is claiming that all Western media is fake news and anti-Chinese. Funny how the LDP hates China with a burning passion, but copies a lot of their policies.
LDP + CCP, it is the narcissism of small differences. These are both post National (national socialist) regimes with competing interests, as nationalism is essentially internationally divisive. As we saw recently with Nobu-Sukebe Kishi’s legacy and its violent outcome, they would like to go full on authoritarian, those nostalgic days of the 1930s, but they are in the democratic camp, and need the American military, so lip service must be given to those pesky human rights, elections, women, etc
@ B, the mindset comes from the same perennially butthurt inferiority complex, thery feed off each other its a tragedy of history. The colonized and the defeated colonizer. There is a thing in Korea also called “Korea is #1 in (you care to name it)”. That is why they worry how much they are perceived.
So the UN has to shut up and stop laughing, as in fact Japan is one of the world leaders in (insert field being discussed). But the jig is up, people do largely know Japan is basically racist, even anime fans on the forums worry about it before their fan trips to Tokyo.
So what you’re saying is we DEFINITELY should not send them YouTube links that are actually just Rick Rolls or prank calls from the Howard Stern show?
Japan’s press freedom has plummeted in the last 13 years and now they’re trying to intimidate anyone who doesn’t have to comply with the kisha club’s requirements.
As toothless as this is, I find it worrying that media with larger reach are completely silent on the matter. Well, not that it will affect them.
It’s almost amusing though to see how self-centered these nationalists are. It reminds of the incident at a UN’s human rights committee when a Japanese official claimed Japan is one of the most advanced countries in terms of human rights and told delegates to “shut up” when they started laughing. This shows the disconnect with reality that nationalism brings. No matter how you try to regulate the narrative, people will make their own opinions on what the government of a country actually does, not what it claims to do.
I wonder if the GOJ will also stifle free speech even more using the recent assassination as an excuse.
Japan may be more serious and proactive about this than we all think. The article linked below is about Twitter being asked for the account informatoin of its suscribers and also being asked by governments to remove content. The Paragraph of the linked article states:
“Japan, which is also a frequent requestor for account information, makes the most requests of Twitter to take down content from accounts. Japan made more than 23,000 requests — half of all requests — for content to be removed. Russia followed closely behind on its takedown asks.”
In the past Japan always tried very hard to control its image and try to keep negative PR out of the news and it is something I thought Japan might outgrow however it obviously has not done so.
I have often wondered at what level Dentsu is involved in these efforts.
Dave, The high number of requests for account info might be related to the recent change in the defamation law in Japan:
Requests for account information is a growing business in the legal profession here I understand.
@David Markle, I see the point your making, but I posted a link on debito.org 2/3 years ago that said that GOJ was making the most requests of any entity for social media sites to take down comments. It was an order of magnitude greater than the second placed entity. So it seems to me that there is a very aggressively pursued policy to attempt to ‘police’ Japan’s international image.
P.S. it would be great if there was a way to search Debito.org for links posted in the past. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve posted a link that became relevant years after the fact. I’m a Luddite, I don’t know how that would work.
In other news, LIV Golf faces accusations of ‘sportswashing’, Tokyo Olympics anyone…? Bueller?
—- I can search via my site tools. Put your search terms at the bottom and I’ll have a look.
Is this the law that led to the prosecution of the reality star’s bully? The article suggests so. If that’s the case, it might confirm my worries that rather than dealing with online bullying, it will more frequently be used to silence those who speak truth to power.
I can say as someone who has been on the receiving end of my share of online abuse and malfeasance, that it is quite a bit more complicated, as everything in Japan usually is. On the one hand you have innocent people being subjected to outright falsehoods published en mass. These attacks then feed upon themselves and seem to take on a life of their own, resulting in dire outcomes sometimes. The anti-defamation law would seem to be targeted to helping those people who become hikkikomori, or worse, through no fault of their own. Making penalties for outright verbal (or in many cases actual physical violence) against these people is something that needs to be addressed in Japanese society, in my honest.
On the other hand though is protection of people in real power who have the means to control any undesirable narrative they wish. Take, for example the corrupt politician or even the lower level public servant, who through some personal episode of character weakness, commits an offense such as DUI, taking money they shouldn’t, or some such crime. Revealing this sort of behavior is usually considered in the public interest as public officials are held to a higher standard (supposedly). The defamation laws don’t apply to them necessarily, however these people often have enough personal power and influence to suppress the information being made public through traditional means like newspapers in the past. While they have traditional media in their pockets enough to be able to squash stories they find personally embarrassing, these tidbits of “gossip” often find an outlet through SM, this what the powers that be really don’t like. Many times those doing the posting are freelance or use accounts not in their real names to expound on information traditional media will not or cannot publish. Not being able to control embarrassing gaffes through laws and regulations with real penalties are what the new and improved laws on defamation are focused on.
The Japanese government trying to control the image of Japan in foreign SM itself seems laughable at best. This is probably just another do nothing governmental department trying to justify its existence and questionable use of taxpayer funds. This is insulting. One only needs to be reminded of the wartime Information Bureau that tried to control, through coercion, everything everybody said or even thought. How did that turn out? The fact that Japan has the most requests to remove these posts by worldwide standards, is in itself a dramatic reflection on Japanese society as a whole. Many people think posting degrading information about others online, whether true or false, is not anything based in reality. To them it is just another computer game without real life consequences. The new law fits them perfectly.
Dear @David Markle
Thank you for your well thought out reply. I do understand what you are saying and full agree this may be a contributor to the actual numbers Twitter reported (23,000 requests) however I do not think this would come close to being responsible for all requests made.
Perhaps this is in fact a combination of the recent change in the defamation law in Japan and the increased sensitivity of Japan (almost China like) of Japan’s image overseas.
Time has published an excellent article on the growth of hate speech in Japan and the difficulty of policing it. A rare bravo for sure!