politics

'Fear' and 'favor' chill newsroom at Japan Times after 'forced WWII laborer,' 'comfort women' changes

47 Comments
By Mari Saito and Ami Miyazaki

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to increase advertising revenue from Japanese companies and institutions

There's everything you need to know about the editor's reasoning. Follow the money.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

In the mentality of Japanese, occupation is protection.

-11 ( +10 / -21 )

I haven't really cared about the Japan Times since they started charging for online access the bad junk they called a newspaper, but I'm not surprised.

It's gone from a bad newspaper to a piece of junk.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

He said the Nov 30 note did not signal a change in the paper's editorial direction,

adding: "I categorically deny any accusations that The Japan Times has bowed to external pressure."

Just because you say it, does not make it so. It must have been a pretty damn big account that you were going to lose that made you come up with this decision!

7 ( +16 / -9 )

Sex slaves, are no longer sex slaves but comefort women, and now brothel workers? They are kidding themselves if believe the world will follow their lead on that. Brothel workers will be followed with an explanation it's a eufamisom for sex slaves. The slide back to 1930 quickens. Hardly a free press or an environment where anything but the governments agenda prevail.

0 ( +16 / -16 )

There's no way the Japan Times can survive in the online era with their prices.

It was 180 yen when I used to buy it daily 10 years ago which was about 90 yen more expensive than the Japanese papers.

If they had reduced prices from the savings they'd make if they were to go completely digital without having to cover costs to print and deliver paper, they might still have higher readership.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

A lengthy article detailing what went on and the close ties between the new Japan Times management, the current Japanese Prime Minister and Nippon Kaigi:

https://apjjf.org/2019/03/McNeill.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Disgraceful.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Disgraceful yes. However, they are hardly the first Newspaper and most likely won’t be the last newspaper to do things like this. There is a lot more collusion between News agencies and governments than many people realize.

There are many ways a government can make newspapers a non factor. Because of this most papers are very careful about the things they choose to and not print as well as how these things are mentioned in article.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Just proves that nationalistic and conserative WW2 sentiment is still high on the agenda in Japan. When will you squarely face your actions and crimes against humanity during WW2, Japan? Stop act like the victim and behave like a proper nation who acknowledges the results of WW2!

2 ( +21 / -19 )

Good article. I note a news program on NHK recently reverted to inserting the qualifier 'so called' in front of the phrase "comfort women" ('iwayuru' "ianfu"). The qualifier had been deleted for about two years, but appears to be now reinstated. Of course South Korea has lately been distorting some news too.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

.

The change reflects more accurately what happened.

.

3 ( +18 / -15 )

Sad to see the demise of what was once a good newspaper.

When I first moved here (pre-Internet), every morning I'd wake up, go to my Kyoto train station (which didn't have a news kiosk), take the train to the next station (which did), return, and begin my day. The elderly lady at the kiosk would always greet me with the Kyoto dialect お気に. I learned much of Japan from that paper.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

According to an article posted by the FFCJ, News2U CEO Minako Kambara Suematsu is a Gakushuin University-educated scion of the Hiroshima-based Kambara family, whose ancestor Katsutaro Kambara established Kambara Kisen shipping company in 1903. Aside from her media enterprises, she’s senior managing director of the family’s Tsuneishi Holdings, a ¥200 billion concern with businesses in shipbuilding, logistics, energy and leisure. Gakushuin University counts as alumni the Emperor, his three children, the Emperor's brother and two sisters, and eleven other members of the extended royal family.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Strikebreaker555Today  08:18 am JST

Just proves that nationalistic and conserative WW2 sentiment is still high on the agenda in Japan

The right wing in Japan, be they in the government or the bozos with the sound trucks, don't regret WWII because it was wrong. They regret WWII because Japan lost.

1 ( +17 / -16 )

In all my years in Japan, I have never subscribed to The Japan Times and never bought it at a newsstand unless it was the only English newspaper there and I really needed something to read.

In its heyday, in the '70s and '80s, they had a lot of foreign columnists that would write non-news columns and I remember that many of the expats in Tokyo subscribed to it.

My dad hated it, though, and subscribed to the Mainichi Daily News instead, which was cheaper and just seemed better. And it also carried the Peanuts cartoon strip! :-)

For me, since I returned to Japan, I subscribed to The Daily Yomiuri. It was conservative, of course, when it came to its editorial page and some of its writing, but I knew what to expect and the content was good and the price couldn't be beat.

But, I stopped subscribing to a newspaper more than a decade ago. Absolutely no need to subscribe to an English newspaper to get English news content in Japan.

I say all of that to say that The Japan Times was a money-losing operation and probably still is. The number of foreigners who have any interest in subscribing to any newspaper has most definitely shrunk dramatically. Which means that the owner has to find readers and advertisers where they can. Doesn't make it right, just a business reality,

The ties to Abe and the conservatives in this country would only make that decision easier.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

@Alfie,

Thanks for the link to the excellent background article on the Japan Times--News2U--Nippon Kaigi connection.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

Japan is in a league of the 3rd countries regarding press freedom. Japan ranked the 67-th after El Salvador among the 180 countries in 2018 world press freedom index: https://rsf.org/en/ranking.

Few newspaper companies in Japan can defy the pressure from the government and its brainwashed right-wing chauvinists. Looking into several newspaper portals, I guess Sankei is the most profitable press in Japan, because its anti-Korean articles and editorials are sensational and inflammatory even more than tabloids such as Zakzak (JP), Chosun (KR), the Sun (UK) and the Globe (USA). In normal countries, those articles can not be published in the mainstream media.

2018 world press freedom index

In Asia,

42 - Taiwan

43 - S. Korea

67 - Japan

70 - Hong Kong

71 - Mongolia

124 - Indonesia

.......

176 - China

180 - N. Korea

-6 ( +14 / -20 )

Kingston was one of their best writers, it is a telling sign of how bad the paper is getting that they are getting rid of him in order to feature pro government BS.

I used to read it daily, but won’t touch it ever again.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

I wonder if the Japan Times will delete comments on its website that contain the old terminology.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

For instance, an Australian-Japanese organization that protests comfort women statues, saying the monuments feed anti-Japanese sentiment, along with Kent Gilbert, a well-known conservative commentator and lawyer who has worked in Japan for decades, petitioned Asahi Shimbun last year to remove "forced" from its description of comfort women.

This is a right action.

As we have seen in MAGAA-Hat Kids issue,

Never assume anything or believe what journals say at first.

It takes long to boil down to the truth.

As for comfort woman issue,

The truth is

http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.com/2014/10/summary-of-professor-park-yuhas-book.html

And she was indicted and her book was banned in Korea and now she is getting death threat.

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/11/22/park-yuha-and-the-uncomfortable-realities-of-south-korean-democracy/

You should buy and read her book, it is excellent and has a very FAIR view.

The truth is

There were comfort women serving US soliders after war, bu t they never get any compensation or apology from US government.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jlfAqR8uBc&t=83s

These are the things you NEVER get to see on TV.

Truth is always biased by political correctness.

I would like to hear what authors of this article,Mari Saito and Ami Miyazaki, have to say about these things I mentioned.

6 ( +19 / -13 )

"all the news without fear or favor" is their motto I believe...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Laguna

I learned much of Japan from that paper.

....and still learning, about the changing Japan.... I for one am a touch uneasy about recent changes....

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Censorship. This is exactly the nature of propaganda and censorship. Adjectives are the propagandist's most useful tool. And the JT is controlled by conservative thought and, to my perception, highly favors the positions of the trumpoid Abe who seems bent on reestablishing the Greater Asian Co-prosperity Sphere and [Imperial] Japan's "rightful" place in the dominance hierarchy and turning the islands into graveyards. The dishonest replacement adjectives are just lies. But then, it's new owners are disciples of Edward Bernays, Goebbels' mentor, who recommended that ONLY lies be used so that a false reality could be created in the target individuals to whom anything, no matter the irrationality, could then be sold to them without questions. It worked for Imperial Japan, NAZI Germany, currently a large segment of the United States...well, Humanity in general, so what else can we expect? Thank you, Japan Today, for this illumination.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

I like how Japan and Japanophiles balk at China's censorship and pretend Japan is so much better when they aim to be just the same or worse. Here is yet more proof. And if you disobey? YOu can be charged with endangering the state Under the Secrets Law -- which passed as it would in a dictatorship.

-1 ( +19 / -20 )

It seems the harder Japan tries, the more it embarrasses itself. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck! Stop trying to downplay the actions of the Japanese imperial army in the first half of last century! One is a sex slave and the other is a slave laborer.

-3 ( +15 / -18 )

We are witnessing historical revision and denialism again taken straight from the nazi playbook. After the forced castration of transgender people news earlier this week, I must admit I'm no longer shocked by the downward spiral the country's in.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the money is on the right as many successful rightwing pundits prove. Add to this the fact that the defeat of Japanese militarism only resulted in the felling of Japanese fascism while its ideological roots remained underground and it is no surprise we are witnessing the bonsai growth of a Zaqqum (devil tree) whose poisonous fruits are ripening for politicians like Abe and Nippon Kaigi to pluck. Fortunately, the apolitical, passive youth of Japan have so far not shown much appetite for such toxic fare.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

What's in a word? A euphemism by any other name would smell as bad...

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What's also funny is watching the denialists say, "It's not US revising history! It's EVERYONE ELSE! Now quickly, change this to read that... I have to head down to the US to demand they change their textbooks or we'll cut sister-city ties!"

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

They don't seem to be as concerned about appearing to have a pro-Japan bias as they are about a perceived anti-Japan bias.

@Laguna

お気に→大きに

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This editorial Policy change at The Japan Times is just a small 1st step of re-balancing process from heavily-biased Korean narrative to neutral position. No more no less. It needs to further proceed on such process.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

I like how Japan and Japanophiles balk at China's censorship and pretend Japan is so much better when they aim to be just the same or worse.

Comparing with China itself passes my comprehension

1 ( +8 / -7 )

위안부 慰安婦 ianfu ・・・commonly used in both countries, not to mention it is proper Korean term. Why not replace lengthy term with ianfu

1 ( +7 / -6 )

A lengthy article detailing what went on and the close ties between the new Japan Times management, the current Japanese Prime Minister and Nippon Kaigi:

https://apjjf.org/2019/03/McNeill.html

Good link Alphie .

Btw, the difference in attitude to all things WW2 between Japan and Germany could not be greater. Next time the J brown shirts bang on about how the neighbors dont like Japan and cant " move on" after 70 years this is just another reminder of the reason why....the little step by step tango denying its wrongs in WW2 and portraying itself as victim once again. Whats next...will probably hear that all the forced Korean labor was actually the first and original " foreign trainee " program to kindly teach and spread J industrial skills and knowhow. They should be grateful .

1 ( +9 / -8 )

The editor is correct, the Japanese don't want to read anything bad about Japan, even things that happened 70 or more years ago.

As for the "newspaper" itself I don't need the International New York Times included. Or the sections for people learning English (or those for learning Japanese). I want to read news in Japan.

Which is sad. It doesn't have to be that way.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

ah yes the new Nippon Kaigi Times

2 ( +9 / -7 )

nitpickyned, my wife says it should be おおきに - kanji is generally not used, but the き is understood to be 気. But then, what do I know.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanks, Alfie. Here's a look at the man behind the Japan Times changes:

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2018/12/17/yoshito-hori-and-the-rightwing-turn-of-the-japan-times/

1 ( +6 / -5 )

So, when is a sex slave not a sex slave? When it is described in the Japanese media, of course. Also, when is a slave laborer not a slave laborer? (See above)

The really cruel thing about this is, they are only concerned about how they will be perceived by Japanese readers. They do not give a fat rat's about how it effects the victims or international relations. Shame on you Japan! SHAME!

1 ( +9 / -8 )

We don’t need to wonder why the Koreans and Japanese are at each others throats. Protectionism isn’t economic around the world but also about face-saving. The politicization of history can only create a major backlash. The only winner in these tit for tats are the Chinese. They’re only waiting for a wrong move and they’ll control the rights and or land integrity of either nation. Japan needs Korea and viceversa. Don’t think that other Korea - Japan disputes nowadays are independent incidents. They may start so only. The ongoing hardening of these two nations hearts will only spell trouble. I hope someone in each government has a cool head and works to bridge national interests for the good of both nations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Very quickly is Japan following in China’s footsteps, albeit with a different name. It’s just a matter of days before this forum itself will be severely censored or even closed. The powers behind the scenes are working hard at it. When these powers take greater control then well see more unrestrained military action in the NW Pacific arena. Pity.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I already lost respect and support for the Japan Times when they published the sensationalized tabloid worthy articles written by Jon Mitchell.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

will subscribe again after 30 some years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. For Japanese people who object to the standard Korean narrative about what happened during World War II, the single biggest problem is one they have no control over: In the United States, residents/citizens of ethnic Korean background now outnumber residents/citizens of ethnic Japanese background by a pretty wide margin after decades of substantial migration from South Korea to the U.S. This development has fundamentally altered the relationship of the Japanese government to its most important ally and major external benefactor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unpopular though my opinion may be, I believe The Japan Times made the correct decision here. Many of those laborers, including prostitutes worked of their own volition. Which is not to deny that there were significant numbers of those who were coerced into labor. But even then, that often came through the machinations of their ethnic confrères.

Consider the issue of Korean wartime laborers. Koreans forget that they were once enthusiastic supporters and facilitators of Japanese imperial ambitions. Far from being a minority of chinilpa conspiring against their own people, who kept the faith in the Empire of Japan. In my own research I have read reports from the former Takumushō which praised Korean enthusiasm for the war, saying that it often outstripped that of ethnic Japanese. Pro-Japanese sentiment was especially strong in the north, in rural communities, and among the working class. Independence activists were often regarded as elites who were less concerned about national sovereignty as they were about the disruption of their place in the pecking order post-occupation.

Naturally, the situation in daily life was more volatile and eludes the grasp of any document to be able to accurately reflect. But it allows one to understand that the relationship between Koreans and the Japanese government during the colonial period was far more complex than most seem to think it was.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Niicolas - as widely as you have read, reading a little more widely would perhaps allow you to proffer some alternatives to the standard narrative of "worked of their own volition" as you put it.

It doesn't matter if some did. Doesn't matter one iota. This sad saga is all about those that didn't. That's the be all and end all. Many were not their of their own volition and numerous detailed reports claim the IJA was collusive in the least and actually, actively coercive.

So for a newspaper of the long standing of the Japan Times, with it's motto of "without fear or favor" to acquiesce to the Tom-Toms of the Righteous Right - aka Nippon Kaigi - is quite disturbing.

Bought out, then silenced. History repeats.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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