TV & Radio
The Japan Times: Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006
Self-censorship conjures ominous echoes of the past
By ROGER PULVERS
Special to The Japan Times
These days a simple but potent Japanese word is appearing in the media with inordinate frequency. It is hannichi, which means "anti-Japanese." An incident last month brought to mind an earlier era, when the word hannichi was also in common currency. Some words skip decades, returning to haunt the national consciousness.
Last month's incident involved a prestigious research body, the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and a leading daily newspaper, the Sankei Shinbun. But before going into details, let's jump back, for a moment, to that earlier era.
The period in question covers the first two decades of the Showa Era, which began in 1926. Japan set upon a disastrous course that led to horrendous atrocities committed in Asia and the Pacific and untold destruction of the Japanese homeland. The horror emerged only after the fact. During that era, particularly in the 1930s, Japanese people were full of pride in their country: The vast majority gloried in the "spiritual health" and growing power of the nation.
The cover of Time magazine on Jan. 23, 1933 is witness to that inner confidence. It features a Japanese man in kimono, seated in an armchair with a starched white slip-cover, reading a newspaper. His shaven head and sumptuous hachiji hige (a moustache shaped like the character for "eight," akin to the European handlebar moustache) cuts a formidable image of Japanese dignity.
This man is War Minister Sadao Araki, one of the most powerful figures of his time and a founding member of the arch-rightwing Kodoha (Faction for the Imperial Way). Later, as Education Minister in 1938 and '39, he forged an inviolate spiritual link between the military and the civilian population. School children were inculcated in the military ethos as the core of their seishin kyoiku (spiritual education). Few citizens seemed to mind the concomitant violent intimidation of all dissenters, unlawful jailing and torture under interrogation and the final silencing of any alternative notion of nationhood.
Fear of intimidation
Any view whatsoever that differed from the reigning Showa nationalism, as it was known, was quashed, along with its adherents. The effect was the creation of a society in which self-censorship worked like a well-oiled machine; and fear of intimidation and public exposure rendered all dissidence silent. Nothing is so convincingly silent as the voice of citizens who voluntarily silence themselves.
These days the ghost of Araki must be dancing its spindly dance of death. The old word hannichi is back in vogue, with a vengeance.
Last month's incident exposed this. According to the Asahi Shinbun of Sept. 8, JIIA withdrew an article it had posted in English on its Web site. "How Japan Imagines China and Sees Itself" expressed views that were critical of Japan's new spiritual nationalism, and called attention to the "cult of Yasukuni" generated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and some of his predecessors. That commentary could in no way be considered radical. In fact, more inflammatory pieces appear daily in the vernacular and English-language press.
Yet on Aug. 12, the Sankei Shinbun lambasted that article on the JIIA's Web site for its "extreme opinions that counter Japan's current diplomacy and the principle of national security." So far, par for the course of polemics in Japan, particularly now that they have come to resemble, in a somewhat more guarded form, those in George W. Bush's America or, for that matter, contemporary China.
But the JIIA response was startling. Instead of defending their right of free speech, they deleted the piece from their site and called an end to the essay series of which it was a part. Furthermore, JIIA President Yukio Sato, one of Japan's most distinguished diplomats (having served as ambassador in Australia and the Netherlands, and as Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations) expressed "regret" at having published the commentary in the first place. Sato was quoted in the Asahi Shinbun as saying he would take measures to examine essays, presumably to ensure that they caused no embarrassing confrontations in the future.
This confrontation between the JIIA -- which was founded by former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in 1959 as "an academically independent institution" and "a forum for informed public debate" -- and the Sankei Shinbun clearly demonstrates a dangerous tendency in Japanese society today.
Manure and all
In the past few years we have also seen the rise of the term kokunai no hannichi nihonjin, meaning "Japanese people who are anti-Japanese here at home." This term actually illustrates a misuse of the word hannichi, which by all rights only applies to non-Japanese who are ill-disposed toward or hate this country. This misused label is now being bandied about as it was in the era of Showa nationalism, implying that Japanese people who disagree with the government are traitors.
It surely looks like The Bush Doctrine ("Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists"; from a Sept. 20, 2001, presidential address to a joint session of Congress) transplanted, manure and all, to Japan; but in reality it is no more than the replanting of ideas that flourished here in the first two decades of Showa, ideas which led to the end of all democratic debate in this country. Is this happening again?
That someone of the stature and accomplishment of Sato would retract what was a rather benign commentary on Japan's not-so-new nationalism is a sign that self-censorship through intimidation may once again become an ingrained feature of Japanese social and political life. In a society where decorum dictates the stifling of individual dissent, and silence is a conspiratorial virtue, this is a scary turn of events.
To my mind, the JIIA-Sankei Shinbun incident has become a part of the territory of public intimidation and self-censorship, where all love of country is reduced to a ludicrously simplistic patriotism.
If hannichi continues to catch on as a term of domestic derision, and spiritual nationalism overtakes Japan, we will find incidents like the JIIA-Sankei Shinbun affair happening every day. And then it won't be long before we will be dancing in the arms of that hungry ghost: He is still sitting patiently in the white slip-cover armchair reading his newspaper, waiting for the moment to spring back to life again in his country.
Colo. worker wins transgender bias case
By JON SARCHE, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 15, 12:14 AM ET
A woman who was fired while preparing to undergo sex-change surgery was let go in violation of state anti-discrimination law, the head of Colorado's civil rights agency has ruled.
Advocates praised the ruling, saying it was the first of its kind in Colorado and a sign that society has begun to better understand transgender people.
Danielle Cornwell, 54, claimed in a complaint filed in April with the Civil Rights Division that she was fired in July 2005 because she was a woman and because she had recently told the company she planned to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.
Originally known as David Michael Cornwell, she had realized while working for Intermountain Testing Co. that she was a transgender woman, according to the ruling. She began assuming a feminine appearance, and also told her employer she planned to change her name and dress in women's clothing.
The company, which uses X-rays and other methods to test materials for the construction and manufacturing industries, argued Cornwell was fired because of a decline in business and because she had a low performance rating.
In his Aug. 21 decision, Civil Rights Division Director Wendell Pryor agreed Cornwell was fired because she was a woman said the evidence did not support the company's claims. He said no other employees doing similar work were fired.
"Given this, it appears that the (company's) decision to discharge (Cornwell) was based on her gender — female," Pryor wrote.
Intermountain Testing President Gary Bollerud did not return a call. His attorney, John Husband, declined to comment.
The ruling means Cornwell and representatives of her former employer will meet in October to try to agree on a resolution, her attorney, John Hummel, said Thursday. Cornwell said she would not seek her job back. Hummel said such cases typically are resolved with a cash settlement.
"The well's been poisoned," Cornwell said.
Hummel, who works for the Legal Initiatives Project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, said it was gratifying that the agency did not find the case controversial.
"Maybe that's a sign of progress in society in beginning to understand transgender people more than they had before," he said.
On the Net:
Civil Rights Division: http://www.dora.state.co.us/civil-rights
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center: http://www.glbtcolorado.org
Thousands in South Africa protest gay marriage bill
Sat Sep 16, 11:13 AM ET
Thousands of Christians sang, prayed and chanted "hallelujah" as they marched through South African cities on Saturday against a bill that would make the nation the first on the continent to legalize gay marriage.
The protests, spearheaded by the conservative African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), came days before a parliamentary committee holds hearings on a bill that would accord same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.
At the parliament building in Cape Town, protesters opposed to the Civil Unions Bill presented a memorandum to home affairs portfolio committee chairman Patrick Chauke that demanded a constitutional amendment to "protect" traditional marriage.
Simultaneous marches were staged in other cities, including Johannesburg.
"The institution of marriage has been the cornerstone of civilized society for thousands of years," Steve Swart, an ACDP member of parliament, was quoted as saying by the SAPA news agency.
"Traditional marriages, in which one man and one woman create a lasting community, pass on time-honored family values to secure the future and, therefore, are worthy of protection," said Swart, the party's justice critic.
South Africa's cabinet approved the bill last month after the country's highest court ruled it was unconstitutional to deny gay people the right to marry.
The court gave parliament one year to change the law.
Gay rights activists applauded the move, while religious groups, including the Catholic, Anglican and Dutch Reformed churches, opposed altering the current law, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
If enacted, the bill would place South Africa, which is predominantly Christian, among a handful of mostly European countries that allow same-sex marriage and make it the first to do so in Africa, where homosexuality remains largely taboo.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada already sanction gay marriages. Many African countries, however, outlaw homosexuality and turn a blind eye to the persecution of gays and lesbians.
(Reporting by Paul Simao)
The Age, Australia
Shogun for past and present
Deborah Cameron, Tokyo
September 16, 2006
SHINZO Abe, at unbackable odds to be elected leader in a party vote next week, taps into a strong current.
Whether at Tokyo's "Electric Town" — a bonfire of neon, noise and nerds, where geeky men with no knack for conversation are served green tea by girls in frills — or rubbing shoulders with other silvertails, Mr Abe puts very little distance between the past and the future.
"Our nation, Japan, is blessed with beautiful nature and has a long history and a unique culture," writes Mr Abe, 51, in his new book, Towards a Beautiful Nation.
"And we still have great potential. I think it is our courage, wisdom and efforts that bring out this potential. Instead of disparaging ourselves, we should be proud of ourselves for being Japanese, and we should work hard to cultivate our future.
"Let's talk about what we should do for Japan's tomorrow, rather than concentrating on what is wrong with Japan."
He sees nothing humbling in Japan's military past, and does not want it to wear history's black armband. Eight in 10 voters support him, say the opinion polls.
Mr Abe is a shogun for the new era, a lordly and powerful symbol in a clannish society. Just like the infant Prince Hisahito, born last week to the imperial family, Mr Abe is the heir to a dynasty in a society that has never quite left such notions behind.
His grandfather, whom he idolised, was a former prime minister, and his father was a foreign minister. He has "inherited political DNA", according to the editor-in-chief of the politically connected Tokyo Insideline, Takao Toshikawa.
After Wednesday, Mr Abe will head a highly successful country as it makes a crucial turn in its history.
There is an economic recovery to stabilise, a world role to finesse, trade pacts to make, possible constitutional change, and a diplomatic tightrope to walk that is crucial to the strategic and defence balance of Asia.
Japan's desperation for oil resources has pushed it closer to Iran, and a major Japanese company is being investigated over the illegal sale of equipment useful to nuclear bomb makers.
At the same time, relations with China and Korea are in a white-hot zone, and the US, worried about the nationalist tide in Japan, is wary.
US military bases remain to be realigned at great expense in defiance of local protest, and there are plans for a missile shield.
"Now the US side must, for the first time, make decisions about how it positions itself as an ally of Japan in the growing competition between Tokyo and Beijing," said a former White House co-ordinator of Asia policy, Michael Green, in December.
Dr Green has since "conveyed great concern" to Mr Abe about visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, the inflammatory Shinto memorial that deifies executed war criminals along with other war dead, according to Mr Toshikawa, of Tokyo Insideline.
Dr Green is a "mentor" for Mr Abe, he says, calling him a "realist" and a "pragmatist".
But it is still too early to declare Mr Abe a "pragmatist" or to say what he will do as prime minister, says Robyn Lim, an Australian, who is a professor of international relations at Nanzan University and a former analyst with the Office of National Assessments.
"Mr Abe seems to be a much more traditional kind of politician than Prime Minister Koizumi," she says.
His political power has grown because he has given staunch support to families campaigning for the return of relatives abducted by North Korea, according to Professor Lim.
And his support for an economic blockade on the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-il, and even a first strike if necessary, have only added lustre.
His political DNA explains only one side of him. Another strand comes from being a nationalist in a country that can be downright strange.
It is, after all, a place where the height of culinary adventure is fugu, a deadly poisonous fish. And though it is intensely debating the rise of the bludger, Japan has set the standard for wage slavery in the modern world. Not only that, it also gives legal recognition to overwork as a cause of death. "Although it seems incredible, 14 per cent of Japanese children live in poverty, which is above the OECD average of 11 per cent," wrote the chief economist at Merrill Lynch in Tokyo, Jesper Koll, in the Far Eastern Economic Review this month.
"For a country that also boasts 14 per cent of the world's millionaires, this is a shocking statistic."
Immigration, the women's movement, student radicalism, gay rights, AIDS activism, even vegetarianism and animal rights, have all passed by, leaving no visible impression.
Rather like the French in Europe, the Japanese are inclined to give the impression that they feel superior to their neighbours. Deep down in roots that connect to language, food and manners, Japan believes that it is special, if not unique.
Every evening, when Japan's next prime minister steps out of his loafers and treads noiselessly across his floor, he is honouring habit, etiquette and tradition.
Mr Abe eats at a low table, with his knees tucked under him, and has known only elegance and prosperity. His mother is a noted calligrapher and though he spent two years in the US as a student and young worker, Mr Abe has an air of aristocratic detachment.
"He is always exceedingly polite and he doesn't talk very much," say diplomats who have dealt with him.
Though he has no children of his own to drag him out and about, he is bristling with thoughts about where young people are going wrong. He thinks six months of volunteer work should be a prerequisite to university entrance, presumably because it would straighten them out, and he fervently believes that schools should teach an unquestioning love of Japan as part of the syllabus. The country's current reality is beyond his experience.
After five years of Junichiro Koizumi's reform-minded government, weariness has set in.
The main political opposition, humiliated at the last election, has lost its voice.
After a string of tough years, the common question among talk show hosts is: "Where has it got us?"
The news line-up is thick with reports of the emergence of an underclass, the decline of morals and respect, the low rate of marriage, the rise in HIV infections, and the combined effects of rapid ageing and a low birth rate that is looming as a national catastrophe.
Mr Abe believes he has the answers. Japan is about to have a DNA test.
古森記者「ワシントン・ポスト投稿文に反論する」 (産経 2006/09/16)
The Sankei Shimbun
"Modern Japan is democratic, peaceful, and committed to the rule of law."
スティーブClemons (日本の思考の警察の上昇、日曜日、2006年8月27日著op/ed; ページB02は)、著者ただの策略からの私の完全性の大きく不公平な個人攻撃を用いる民衆扇動にラインを交差させる。 完全に虚偽である声明では私の新聞および私が「30年代様式の軍国主義へのリターンを慕う極度な右翼の行動主義者のますます交戦中のグループの部分である、彼は提案する。… Komoriに最近の(テロリストの)行為の罪があるそれらへのダイレクト接続がないが彼は気づいていなくない」ことを彼の単語が頻繁にそれらを活気づけること「はClemons書く -- そして行為がそれから貸すことそれらを助ける彼の発表に力に討論を沈黙させるために恐れ燃料を供給した。」これに、彼はaccusing日本の恐怖の行為を促すことを慎重の私、新聞記者および解説者、そしてであり故意に試みる。 彼はKoichi Katoの家を燃やした放火の最近の嘆かわしい行為を含む私または私の新聞、総理大臣のKoizumi知られていた政治反対者に無関係な事件を完全に引用する。 記録的なまっすぐの置くためには、私の新聞はすぐに厳しくこの行為を非難する社説を出版した。 kato氏は編集者に個人的に彼の感謝を表現した。 過去のSankeiでShimbunはまたとして暴力を政治問題に演説する方法批判した。 30年代様式の軍国主義へのリターンを、Sankei および慕う日本に行動主義者があれば私はそのような努力を公然と非難し、反対する。 clemons氏はまた私が日本の人々、政府の方針およびリーダーの発送のnon-objective批評そして不当表示に日本の納税者の資金を使用して政府資金を供給された協会で報告した海外聴衆のために英語に専ら書かれた8月12日に出版された私の規則的な新聞コラムをmischaracterized。 私のコラムは穏やかで、客観的な調子をすっかり維持し、だれでもからの謝罪を追求する。
現代日本は民主的、平和、および法の支配に託されてである。 それはまた米国の強い同盟国である。 Sankei Shimbunは全国的に配られるおよそ2.2百万枚のコピーの毎日の循環の日本の主流新聞の1つである。 超何も「氏の要求と対照をなしてClemons'」私の執筆またはペーパーについての保守主義者、ない。 例えば、私達の新聞は全体的なテロリズムを戦うためのアメリカの努力の日本の協同のための編集サポートのリーダーである。 私が頻繁に政府の方針を自分自身批判するが、報告している30年間の私はに一度決して軍国主義への日本のリターンを支持したあらないことは。 氏が私の意見を好まなければClemons、それは格好の的である。 しかし彼は私がまた私の意見を表現する権利を有し、それが言論の自由の攻撃でないことを忘れるべきでない。 私は一貫してどうにか開いた政府、言論の自由および多党民主主義の下を掘る移動を批判した。 私は氏のClemons意見を共有するそれらを含む政治的見解のためのだれでもに対して熱烈に暴力を、非難する。 clemons氏に別の方法で意味するべき基礎がない。
09月16日 (土) 01時28分
都城市の男女共同参画条例修正案 同性愛者らの人権配慮逆行 『性的指向にかかわらず』 文言削除 (東京 2006/09/14朝刊 24頁 こちら特報部)
Censorship issues hang over Japan
By Takehiko Kambayashi
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published September 15, 2006
TOKYO -- Supported by a majority of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe is expected to win the ruling party's presidential race Wednesday -- which is tantamount to winning the prime ministership.
Mr. Abe, however, has been a center of controversy since the mass-circulation daily Asahi Shimbun reported last year that he and Shoichi Nakagawa, the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, pressured NHK, Japan's public television network, to censor a documentary about the use of sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Most of the victims were Koreans, Chinese and Indonesians.
Mr. Abe repeatedly called the article "fabricated." But after the Asahi article, an NHK producer responsible for the documentary conceded tearfully that the TV network was forced to remove key footage, including the heart-wrenching testimony of survivors.
"NHK sabotaged the program," said Rumiko Nishino, co-chairperson of Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan (VAWW-NET Japan), a group formed to eliminate violence against women in war and armed conflicts. "Its top officials pre-screened a program with a very low rating and ordered their staff twice to change the content. Their pre-screening itself is an anomaly," she added.
Soon after the documentary's broadcast in January 2001, the Tokyo-based group filed a defamation lawsuit against NHK, one of the world's largest television networks.
Mr. Abe and Mr. Nakagawa of NHK repeatedly denied doctoring the anti-war program. But after the report and a series of embezzlement scandals at NHK, Katsuji Ebisawa, its president, resigned "to take responsibility." Though Mr. Abe was given much TV air time to deny the censorship report and discredit the unofficial tribunal, its organizers were not invited to tell their side.
"Mr. Abe distorted the tribunal's revelations and gave incorrect information on national TV, but journalists who knew little about the event failed to point that out," Mrs. Nishino said.
For instance, though Mr. Abe said the tribunal had no defense team, VAWW-NET Japan had asked then-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to have a defense counsel attend the unofficial trial, but since he never responded, "friends of the court" explained the Japanese government's position and point of views, she said.
Mr. Abe could not be reached for comment.
Critics say the media shifted the attention away from the involvement of ruling party members by focusing more on a battle between Asahi and NHK.
"LDP members started complaining about NHK producing a biased program, and the network changed its content. That's the only problem. But that's the only thing the media apparently agreed never to make the issue of," said Kenichi Asano, a journalism professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
Major newspapers criticized Asahi's coverage, and magazines made personal attacks on an Asahi reporter who wrote about the issue, some calling him "ultraleft."
The public relations department of the Sankei Shimbun, another major newspaper, declared: "The reason we couldn't help being critical of Asahi Shimbun is that it is a matter affecting the whole news media. ... Since NHK is a public broadcasting system, the essential problem is whether the content of the program [wartime sex slavery] was appropriate," it added.
Public relations departments of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun declined to comment, and the editorial desk of the Mainichi Shimbun said it did not devote much coverage to criticizing the Asahi newspaper.
Last summer, however, the monthly magazine Gendai ran a transcript of the Asahi reporter's tape of his conversations with Mr. Abe, Mr. Nakagawa and Takeshi Matsuo, a top NHK official. The article made clear that they repeatedly lied about the report of censorship, critics said.
In the end, Asahi Shimbun ran articles on Oct. 1 saying the articles regarding the NHK documentary contained "uncertain" information.
"Asahi Shimbun, which became popular as a major news organization, knelt in total surrender to Mr. Abe," said Yasushi Kawasaki, a former NHK political reporter. "Other news organizations also go along with Mr. Abe. Journalism is as good as dead."
With media attention focused on the LDP presidential race, Mr. Abe, who became popular by taking a strong stance against North Korea, seems to be on a triumphal march.
Since only LDP members can vote in the party's elections next Wednesday, critics ask why the major media excessively cover the race, which experts and even some LDP members call "boring." Moreover, despite Mr. Koizumi's popularity, the number of LDP members has dwindled almost by half from about 2.37 million in the year 2000 to about 1.22 million at the end of 2005.
The massive coverage of Mr. Abe has helped this hawkish political leader, who critics say has suppressed freedom of speech. Most of the coverage, however, focuses on LDP candidates, not on the public or issues.
"Since their talks are preoccupied with party logic, the scope of their debate is inevitably limited," said Ken Takeuchi, chief executive officer of Japan Internet News and a former Asahi Newspaper editorial board member.
"Mr. Abe is all over," said Mr. Kawasaki, who taught journalism at Sugiyama Women's College in Nagoya. "Not only opposition parties but the ruling coalition was not covered. All they got is just Mr. Abe."
NHK, the Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun all agree that since whoever wins the leadership of the ruling party is expected to win the prime ministership, it is natural that they should cover it. The Yomiuri Shimbun declined to comment.
新男女共同参画条例案：都城市に同性愛者らが抗議 「性的指向」の例示削除 (毎日・宮崎版 2006/09/15)