Tuesday, March 22, 2005

For Media Hounds

I don't know much about Japanese culture, but this book about the Japanese media gives me the chills:

The damage, however, is not limited to historical events such as World War II. It extends instead even to the present time – and war. When Japanese political leaders decided to support President Bush's war in Iraq by deploying troops there despite public opposition, the country's controlled, compliant media helped foster the fig-leaf lie dutifully that the troops were merely "Self-Defense Forces" in a "non-combat zone," and thus constitutionally deployed. Perhaps worse, mainstream Japanese outlets have since withdrawn their personnel entirely and now rely exclusively on official military sources for news about the troops. Meanwhile, as Gamble and Watanabe detail, the media also faithfully followed the party line last year when Japanese civilians were taken hostage – attacking the victims as unpatriotic for having embarrassed the government instead of rejoicing in their eventual freedom, as one might expect. In sum, as Gamble and Watanabe demonstrate, Japan has "the least independent, and arguably the least trustworthy, news media in the democratic world, whose transgressions could shock the most jaundiced American audience."
The book is A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West by Adam Gamble & Takesato Watanabe and it is reviewed at AlterNet. It sounds like the United States had our meddling hands in the whole thing. What a surprise!