Monday, September 15, 2014

Reveal of the Structure of how Asahi Shinbun Fabricated the story of “Korean Sex Slaves” and Propagated to the World and the Vast Implication of This Reveal

1.        Reveal of Asahi Shinbun’s Fabrication of the Story of “Korean Sex Slaves”
On August 5, 2014 Asahi Shinbun, the second largest liberal newspaper in Japan, announced that its articles that reported atrocities of Japanese military hunting over 2,000 Korean women and forcing them to work as sex slaves were fabricated stories, and apologized and retracted all 16 related articles that were published in the 80s and 90s. This incidence is another example of the rise of public opinion that is empowered by the internet that enabled rigorous scrutiny of facts. It is now very difficult for the mass media to fabricate false story and create misperception. The implication of the reveal of this fabrication extends to the credibility of U.S. media, especially the New York Times, some U.S. politicians that have been excessively compliant to their local Korean constituents, United Nations Commission on Human Rights that filed Coomaraswamy report which was based partly on false facts, Korean diplomacy and Japanese diplomacy in general. These parties have neglected, on various extents, the simple principle – to be fact based.

2.       The Reveal of the Structure of how Fabricated Story Became De Facto International Perception
The allegation that Japanese military forced Korean women to work as a sex slave during World War II started to become an international issue since the 80s. The structure of how Asahi Shinbun fabricated the story of “Korean Sex Slaves” and propagated to the world to make it an international issue is now revealed:

First, there is Asahi’s ideology that shapes their view to be pro-communist China and pro- North and South Korea. Based on this ideology, Asahi has been fabricating articles (with the obvious intention it is not simple misreporting). Asahi will then persuade the New York Times (which its Tokyo bureau is located inside the Asahi Shinbun’s headquarters) to report the story in the U.S. Then Asahi will report back in Japan that the global media NYT is reporting a story that is now a global issue. Asahi will also persuade Korean media to report in Korea. The fabricated story will be amplified throughout this structure bouncing back and force among Asahi, NYT, South Korean media. Eventually, U.S. politicians, international organization such as UNHCR, Korean and Japanese diplomacy will be dragged into the structure of amplification.

3.       The Breach of the Amplification Structure
The acknowledgement by Asahi that the basis of its allegation was false directly hits the fundamental basis of the entire amplification structure.  Although too much amplification had already been made, it is significant that the basis is destroyed. On September 14, 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted that Asahi Shinbun should do its best to explain to the world – to unwind the amplification.

The incident highlights the rise of public voice empowered by the internet that increased public’s ability to cross examine facts. Asahi was pushed to admit their mistake after over 30 years of denial (despite the repeated suggestion on the inaccuracy of the articles), because the public now have access to more reliable facts. Mass media such as Asahi Shinbun that fabricate story to justify their ideology rather than to report factual news will be eventually be scrutinized.

4.       Implication to the U.S. Media, Politicians, UN committees, and Japanese Diplomacy
U.S. media:
U.S. media that were intentionally or unintentionally involved in the amplification structure should re-examine the fact and its own reporting. Admitting the errors in the past reports would be necessary, especially the New York Times. Fact based reporting is required rather than reporting what some loud voice is claiming.

U.S. Politicians that is involved in setting up monuments in the U.S. based on fabricated story:
While getting the vote of Korean constituents must be attractive, U.S. politicians should stay away from such activity that is based on false story as true molarity will be eventually examined.

United Nations Commission on Human Rights:
U.N. reports that are based on false allegation should be retracted or corrected.

Korean diplomacy:
Koreans should stop using the story of “sex slaves” to try to keep the moral upper hand against Japan as the facts will eventually fire back as evidenced in the recent loss of interest to Korea in Japan.
Japanese diplomacy:
Japanese diplomacy has been incapable and allowed defamation of Japanese citizens by Asahi Shinbun and the amplification structure. Here again, the past action by the government was not fact based. For example Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono made a statement, without facts, that Koran women were forced to become comfort women (sex slaves) .Diplomacy has to be fact based as well.

5.       End note
The structure of creating and amplifying fabricated story is now breached. Asahi decided to admit this and other fabrications, including false reporting regarding the evacuation of workers at Fukushima Nuclear power plant and false interview reporting on a Japanese manufacturing company. Fabricated reporting will be eventually criticised in this era and mass media should revert to the principle of fact based reporting rather than focusing on spreading its ideology.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Planned Massive Protests in Japan Against Fuji Television and Kao (Sept. 16-17)

Dear reporters of the international news media,

This is a kind reminder for you about massive protests in Japan that is planned to be held in September so that you may be able to cover those critical events. These protests in September will be truly unusual and landmark events in Japanese modern history.

It is stated that the goal of the protest is to condemn Fuji Television, one of the largest Japanese TV networks, for its biased TV broadcasting. Fuji has been criticized that it has excessively broadcasted Korean TV series and other Korean entertainment contents while receiving funds from the Korean government and purchasing many broadcasting rights from Korea. The excessive pushy marketing and the heavy use of subliminal stealth marketing by Fuji have also been criticized. On a more sensitive note, it is alledged that Fuji has broadcasted many sports games in a way that damages Japanese sentiment, by demeaning Japanese athletes and omitting images of moments that strengthens national unity in times of national disaster.

A similar protest against Fuji that had participants of 6,000 to 10,000 people was held in August 21, 2011. One very important thing to note is that those participants were truly ordinary people without any association to ideological/religious/political organizations. These people gathered through communications using internet. In other words, the so-called shy silent majority of Japan is finally raising their voice, and that is truly a phenomenal move.

The other key issue to note is that none of the major news media reported the protest in August. The traditional media (TV and newspapers) tried to cover up and play down the confrontation between the traditional media (that are grid locked with special interests) versus truly democratic public opinion.  The protests are the beginning of the shift of power structure of media and the opening of the new era of media.

Although Fuji and other news media ignored the massive protest in August (while always reporting anti-Japan protest by some 30 radical leftist groups), Fuji's hidden internal fear can be observed on its Japanese web page. On its top page, it presents lengthy letter that tries to respond to the concerns raised by the protestors.

Protests in September will be incidents worth reporting for the international news media, as it is a turning point of how Japanese forms and expresses public opinion. Protest against Kao , which is a major financial sponsor of Fuji, is planned on September 16 from 11:30 starting from Sakamotocho Park close to Kayabacho station in Tokyo. Protest against Fuji itself is planned on September 17 from 13:00 starting from Promenade Park close to Odaiba station in Tokyo.

Please find the following link for the details of the similar protest that was held against Fuji on August 21, 2011.

Sincerely yours,

One voice of the Japanese public

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Demonstration against Fuji Television Highlights New Form of Public Opinion

On August 21 2011, over 6,000 people protested against Fuji Television, one of the major TV networks in Japan. People protested that Fuji is biased, massively broadcasting Korean TV series and other Korean entertainment contents instead of Japanese ones or those from other countries. Fuji is also condemned that its engagement in excessive stealth marketing has crossed the line. Demonstrators claimed that so-called “Korean-boom” in Japan is merely an illusionary artifact orchestrated by Fuji.

People also condemned Fuji that while Fuji promoted Korean celebrities, it demeaned Japanese ones. Notably, it is alleged that Fuji has unfairly given positive views about Korean top female figure skater while demeaning the Japanese competitor, Mao Asada. It is claimed that Fuji is engaged in excessively pushy marketing campaigns because Fuji has purchased and owns many broadcasting rights of Korean contents and receives funds from the Korean government.

People responded by demonstrating and boycotting products of sponsor companies such as Kao, a major home product company. Kao spends bulk of their ad spending in Fuji’s program. The demonstration and the boycott highlight (1) the emergence of active public opinion that was previously almost non-existent in Japan, (2) the truth about so-called “ultra right-wing”, and (3) the revealing of structural problems of Japanese media.

1. Emergence of active public opinion

This demonstration could be a turning point of how Japanese forms and expresses public opinion. First, the demonstration was different from any other previous demonstrations because it was truly a mass of ordinary people of diverse background. The participants were housewives, students, and office workers who have no common association to specific political, religious, or ideological organizations. Internet was the platform of communication and people gathered on the basis of shared resentment against biased broadcasting. Simply put, people had no activist background. In the past demonstration by such people was almost non-existent.

Second, the sheer number of people who demonstrated is probably the largest in the last couple of decades. It is also worth noting that despite the large number of people, it was an orderly demonstration without hate speech or flag burning performances that could be common in other countries.

Third, the public opinion was formed through the internet, not mass media. People now actively seek and share information over the internet. The ability of television and newspapers to control and influence public opinion is weakening.

2. The truth about so-called “ultra right-wing”

There were three groups at the site of demonstration: non-political public demonstrators, conservative political demonstrators, and the "ultra right-wingers." There are real differences among these groups.

First is the group of ordinary people who gathered to protest. They were by far the majority on that day. Many of these people never protested before. Second is the conservative group who shares conservative political views.  Their argument is more comprehensive than non-political demonstrators, ranging from protest against Korean occupation of Japanese island Takeshima to claim for increased defense spending. The difference of non-political group and politically motivated group forced the two groups to hold separate demonstrations on that day, which both turned out to be successful.

Third is the so-called “ultra right-wing.” They appeared toward the end of demonstrations, driving in with a few cars with loud speakers. These “ultra right-wingers” typically uses black painted buses and vans equipped with loud speakers, playing Japanese national anthem, praising the Emperor, and giving hate speech. The truth of these organizations is now revealed that at least 30% of these right wingers are actually Koreans or of Korean descend. If fact, these right-wingers are usually very pro-Korea.

The behavior of these “ultra right-wingers” is malicious and is threatening to the general public. The goal of their behavior is to plant bad image of conservatism and to tarnish the image of national anthem and Japanese flag. This is one of the major reasons why Japanese today feel guilty about singing national anthem or showing Japanese flag. Some demonstrators even suspected that Fuji hired these “ultra right-wingers” to disrupt the demonstration and tarnish the image of demonstrators.

3. Revealing of structural problems of Japanese media

The oddity of the aftermath of the incidence is that no major media reported about the demonstration. Not reporting this incidence seems that the media is failing to report the critical social phenomena. It is a very unusual situation and some claim that the Japanese media is worse than the Chinese media which are controlled by the communist party. There is a reason for this. Not only Fuji but all Japanese media are fearing the spread of this incidence.

The root problem, as many demonstrators claimed that it is not an anti-Korea movement but an anti-bias movement, is the heavily commercially motivated marketing by many TV stations. Such marketing is possible because TV and newspaper companies are cross-owned and hence are united. As a result, there are only a few media networks, and the industry is in an oligopoly. In Japan, license to use the wave bandwidth is perpetual and not auctioned once a while as in other countries. Also the problem in both TV and newspapers will never be pointed by either media. What all TV and news media are afraid is that public has already realized that the true problem lies in this dominance of media by a few companies, trying to control public opinion from political debate to what people have to consume.

This trend of active public opinion and realization of structural problems in media will not go away just as globalization will never seize. The only thing that media can do is to buy some time, but that will come at expense of not being able to quickly adapt to the new business environment.