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by Julian Ryall

 

Amy Goodman, founder of the independent news program “Democracy Now!” and the host of a significant amount of its output on radio, television and the Internet, has a reputation for being outspoken. She lived up to that reputation by declining to pull her punches on subjects far and wide at a luncheon at the FCCJ on Jan. 20.

Visiting Japan to do a series of live broadcasts, including looking at the U.S. military presence in Okinawa and the fate of evacuees from towns close to the Fukushima nuclear plant, Goodman also visited Hiroshima and spoke at universities in Tokyo and Kyoto.

A vocal critic of the mainstream media in the rest of the world, she was equally unimpressed by the performance of the Japanese media in covering issues that should be of critical importance to a domestic audience.“We met with anti-nuclear protestors outside the prime minister’s residence and those who oppose nuclear power are in the majority here, but I don’t see that being reported on the nightly news,” she said.

“The media should be a great force that levels the playing field, not a megaphone for those in power,” she said. “It should be apart from politics, not a part of them.

“The media should be the checks and balances on power, an essential function of a democratic society.”

 

 

 

 

 

The 53rd Miss International was crowned recently in Tokyo, but her predecessor, the first Japanese woman to win the title in 52 years, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, was not there to hand over her crown, Ms. Yoshimatsu is an actress, best-selling author and a social activist. The reason for her conspicuous absence: she was told to "play sick" by the management of the contest, who fear that a powerful talent agency executive stalking her might "cause trouble."  Read the article
 

 

 

AP SPORTS WRITER

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni says playing against tough opposition has given his team greater confidence as it prepares for a fifth straight World Cup appearance.

Since taking over after the 2010 World Cup, Zaccheroni says one of his main goals was to take Japan out of its comfort zone by playing against some of the world's stronger teams. Over the years, Japan has had a reputation for dominating in Asia but struggling against teams from Europe and South America.

"In the three and a half years since I've been here, I've asked that we play stronger teams away," Zaccheroni said on Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "In the past the team was a little shy when it had to confront the stronger teams but this isn't the case anymore. The team has more confidence now." Read the AP article

 

 

 

by Julian Ryall

The former prime minister rules out a “grand coalition” with fellow former PM Junichiro Koizumi to do away with nuclear energy, but vows to continue his own campaign.

Speaking at a luncheon at the FCCJ on December 12, Kan repeated his support for Koizumi’s opposition to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power – a controversial position for the former LDP prime minister, given that the party that he headed for so many years is so committed to restarting the nation’s mothballed reactors.

Asked if he might put aside his Democratic Party of Japan affiliations to team up with Koizumi, Kan replied that he believes both politicians “can be more effective separately.”

“If we were to collaborate, then people would get suspicious.[Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe and the LDP would say that he had strayed from the party,” Kan said. In the same vein, Kan believes he would be accused of “snuggling up” to Koizumi by many in the DPJ.

 

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