Friday, September 28, 2007

Newsworthy -- the unwilling dead

In the news, sumo is dead...and so is a Japanese photo-journalist in Myanmar.

For a former fan (Chiyonofuji, why did you ever retire?) the implosion of the current iteration of the sport could not come about sooner.

The collapse of sumo from within is well deserved -- the Nippon Sumō Kyōkai (Japan Sumo Association) long ago lost any shred of credibility. From blanket denials of yaochō (fixed matches), to failure to police younger wrestlers to looking the other way during the periodic bouts of xenophobia against foreign ōzeki and yokozuna (most recently, the near pogrom against yokozuna Asashōryū)--the association failed to confront its own irrelevance and decay. The end has come, as in all terrible stories, with a murder--the beating death of a young Japanese rikishi at the hands of his stable master and fellow stable mates.

Following the shooting death amid the crackdown in Yangon, it will be interesting to see what the Prime Minister will have to say today. He most certainly will have to say something.

If he mumbles out a "We are concerned and have passed on our concerns to the Myanmarese government. We are waiting for an explanation of the incident. Our sympathies go out to Nagai-san's family" he will have fulfilled his duties but missed his chance.

If he is properly briefed and realizes that ASEAN has lost all patience with the SPDC, he could say something memorable on the order of "The generals have stayed too long and done too much harm to plausibly claim they are working for the good of the country anymore. They have to return to their barracks and let the legitimate civilian government take over."

Not too much of a chance of that happening, I know. However, as a reputed Fukuda fan, I cannot shake the sense that the PM might say something surprisingly strong.

I cannot wait to hear the explanations of the various news critics why only the Mainichi's and The Japan Times's cover shot of the incident show the photographer lying in the street. Bad information? Injudicious editing? Pressure to not inflame people's feelings? A desire to spare the readers and relatives the sight of the dying man?


Anonymous said...


My colleagues and I have observed that the photo of poor Mr. Nagai was front and center in all the major newspapers in the West. It seems a shame that PM Fukuda’s statement was not stronger.

My colleagues wonder if you have any thoughts on the fact that Myanmar re-established diplomatic relations with the DPRK this year? They had been cut after DPRK assassinated visiting South Korean cabinet members in 1983. The Myanmar ambassador to China was recently appointed the concurrent ambassador to the DPRK.

I am sorry if my question is not relevant to your discussions.

Zhao-Hong Wenguo

MTC said...

Zhao-Hong -

May I defer a response to your question to next week?