Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From Mr. Watanabe's Sandbox

To an American friend:

I would caution against relying on a Yomiuri Shimbun report. The media giants want to be political players, with the Yomiuri and the Fuji Sankei groups vying for the title of the media giant most ready to cross the line between reporting on the news and manufacturing it. What appear under the masthead at the Yomiuri are often policy set pieces, with quotes and illustrations cherry picked to help bolster previous set pieces produced by the staff and editors.

In the specific case of the timing and holding of a House of Representatives election, the Yomiuri has three main goals:

First, the repetition of the lie that an election could be held at a moment's notice. The decennial census and court rulings have put a stranglehold on the dissolution of the Diet and the holding of a House of Representative election. Nevertheless, in order to keep the public on pins and needles as regards a possible early elections, the Yomiuri news group, in collusion with the other major news groups, has kept news consumers deliberately mis- or under-informed as to the constitutional and legal roadblocks standing in the way of the PM asking the Emperor for a dissolution -- under normal circumstances, a pro-forma request.

Second, the promotion of the pernicious view that governance in Japan comes not through laws and incentives but through the adherence to norms, with the news media conveniently self-appointed as the morals police.

Third the improvement of the political standing and image of the LDP. During the long decades of LDP rule, the Yomiuri new media group clung to the stoop of the Prime Minister's Residence, showering with praise whoever was the Residence's latest occupant. The advent of DPJ rule robbed the Yomiuri of its traditional role inside the media herd of the bullhorn of conformist thought. Until such a time as a member of the LDP regains the premiership, the Yomiuri media empire can be mocked as a baseball team's publicity department.
What should be changed in the above? I have already inducted NHK in the Hall of Shame this month (Link). Should the Nihon Keizai Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun be similarly inducted, for their stories on Tuesday claiming that Prime Minister Noda has decided to dissolve the Diet and call an election before the year is out? Or did the PM deserve to have his tail fried, first by the Nikkei and the Mainichi, then by the Democratic Party of Japan's Executive Council? (Link)

Later - The Mainichi is now saying that Noda responded to a question put to him by Abe Shinzo in party leaders Debate Time with an "I will dissolve the Diet on the 16th." The general presumption is that Noda is saying "This Friday." Knowing Noda, you really have to make sure when you ask him, on the order of "That is the 16th of this month, right? Not just some 16th of some month, sometime in the future, right?"

I will have to check out the video to find out what the Prime Minister said -- which, given Noda-san's tendency to take the debate over commonly understood terms to Clintonian levels of redefinition, might not help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or you could admit that you were simply wrong.