Member Login

Member Login

Username
Password *

Number 1 Shimbun

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (147)

Children categories

The disappearance of a sorely needed medium

02-1


by Andrew Pothecary

WE ARE LIVING IN an age when the president of the US—commonly, if dubiously, called “the leader of the free world”—says he would like people to admire him as the North Korean people do Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of a dictatorship. When in Britain, the lead candidate to head the governing party and become prime minister has been previously caught conspiring to have a journalist beaten up and has been demoted in government, sacked from a newspaper and even faced a court summons for his lies. When populist leaders from India to Brazil bathe in praise often of their own making.

Then, last month, the New York Times decided to completely stop all political cartoons. Yes, they can go too far, as did one cartoon they published in April that strayed into anti-semitism. It crossed the line of “speaking truth to power” and into an area where the power of previous cartooning had removed truths. While aiming to show Israel’s influence on President Trump, it pictured Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog leading a blind president—only Trump was wearing a yarmulke, suggesting he had converted to Judaism, not Israeli politics. 

Yes, the idea of Jews as dogs has an appalling history. But that’s what editing is for—to guide, change or cut. The failure of an editorial staff to do its job should not be a reason for a blanket stop on publishing anything, including cartoons.

The art of the political cartoon lies in the ability to summarize an issue, to burst established bubbles and expose underlying intentions and characteristics. As UK cartoonist Martin Towson wrote after the Times’ decision, political cartoons have “the power to shock and offend. That, largely, is what they’re there for, as a kind of dark, sympathetic magic masquerading as a joke.”

We don’t have a cartoonist in Number 1 Shimbun. But there is a reason that the Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who had exiled himself to Japan, made our front cover in February 2015: he was concerned for his safety and freedom if he continued making cartoons in China. 

02-2  02-3  02-4

 

At times, however, our covers have used a thought process similar to that of a political cartoonist—such as the November 2015 cover of the Asahi Shimbun folded into a paper boat and bombed; the start of the 2017’s Year of the Rooster referencing the strutting nature of the US president in cartoonish form (with extra double meaning); or a visual comment about the safety of Japan’s new seawalls on the March 2016 cover.

Our Trump cover was not necessarily universally liked. To some extent that is the effect of a political cartoonist. The power of a good piece of art might test the boundaries of lampooning those in power. Or, perhaps, the boundaries of social-media voices, which can gather individually to express a collective outrage. 

The cartoonists of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo can get too close for comfort on issues of racism or religious freedom—even occasionally cross the line, some might justifiably argue. But their aim is to nonviolently burst the bubbles of power and the powerful with their art, not to be part of a world where five of their staff can be slaughtered in their offices for their views.

At a time when many hundreds of thousands of people are marching in Hong Kong, some hoisting placards of the city’s Chief Executive pictured as a devil, and many protesters in the UK are competing to make the most pertinent and pithy placard about politicians and Brexit, it seems exactly the wrong time to be stopping political cartoons. If anything, they—as any medium seeking to challenge opaque and misused power—are needed more than ever. 

– Andrew Pothecary

Andrew Pothecary is the art director of Number 1 Shimbun.

New in the Library

 

11-8
Tokyo Ueno Station

Yu Miri; Morgan Giles (trans.)
Tilted Axis Press

Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America
Weijian Shan
John Wiley & Sons
Gift from Naoya Nakata

Jimaku no Hanazono
Natsuko Toda
Shueisha
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Keep on Dreaming: Toda Natsuko
Natsuko Toda; Yuko Kaneko
Futabasha
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Notes on a Life: Coppola Family no Sugao
Eleanor Coppola; Natsuko Toda (trans.)
Futabasha
Gift from Natsuko Toda

Japan Rearmed: the Politics of Military Power
Sheila A. Smith
Harvard University Press

11-9
The Rise and Fall of Modern Japanese Literature

John Whittier Treat
The University of Chicago Press

 

New Members

 

REGULAR MEMBER


11-7
YE SHAN is an English-language correspondent with China’s Xinhua News Agency, where she is currently in charge of reporting on Japan’s political and economic stories for the agency’s Tokyo bureau. Prior to this posting, she was an editor at the English desk of the International News Department in Beijing since 2015. She majored in English and International Communications and has also studied Japanese.

 

PROFESSIONAL/JOURNALIST ASSOCIATE MEMBER

Nobuyuki Kataoka, Kinyobi, Co., Ltd.

 

REINSTATEMENT (PROFESSIONAL/JOURNALIST ASSOCIATE)

Akiko Kashiwagi, The Washington Post


ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

Alfred Moufarrige, Servcorp Ltd.
Dan Underwood, Ashton Consulting Limited
Hironobu Endo, Dentsu Ad-Gear Inc.
Akihiko Fukazawa, Homat Homes, Ltd.
Akiko Kanno, ELGC K.K.
Makoto Takahashi, ELGC K.K.
Satoshi Nakano, Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association
Kazutaka Okubo, Ernst & Young Shinnihon LLC
Izumi Okoshi, Dentsu Inc.
Masanao Tomozoe, Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd.

 

Gozabune: Sunset Cruise

 

The evening of May 5 saw FCCJ members board a luxurious replica of the shogun’s pleasure ship, the Gozabune Atekemaru, for
a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay.

The original was built by the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, in the early 17th century, and its opulent design and regal decor was compared at the time to the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. Thanks to the Special Projects Committee for arranging the very unique event. Cruises are regularly scheduled, and the ship is also available for charter.

 

11-5

 

11-6

 

Join the Film Committee. . .

11-4


…on Wed., June 19 at 6:45 pm for 5 Million Dollar Life, which poses the question “Just how much is life really worth?” For Mirai Takatsuki (played with gusto by Ayumu Mochizuki), it took $5 million in donations to cover his medical bills and keep him alive. Eleven years later, his miraculous recovery is still TV news, and his mother continues to promise that Mirai will pay everyone back by living up to their expectations. But the 17-year-old has had enough of the pressure. In despair, he decides to commit suicide – until a stranger texts him that he has no right to take his own life until he returns the $5 million. So Mirai sets out to do just that. What begins as a familiar-seeming journey with echoes of the teen suicide/coming-of-age/road movie genres, then expands into something completely unexpected, constantly surprising and ultimately, transformative. First-time feature director Sungho Moon will join us for the Q&A session after the screening with Mochizuki.

(Japan, 2019; 112 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles.)

– Karen Severns

11-3

KnK Photo Exhibition

Class Rooms: Places to spend time as a child. 

By Kyo Shimizu

KnK (Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi: Children without Borders) is an NGO that supports children and schools in a number of locations around the world. These photographs by Kyo Shimizu are of children, classrooms and school commutes at KnK missions in Palestine, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Syrian refugee camps, Tohoku and beyond. ❶

Kyo Shimizu, born in Tokyo in 1970, has been helping children for 20 years and expanded his work to become an award-winning photographer of humanitarian issues in 2016. He has worked for KnK Japan since 2003.


11-1

Concentrating without noticing my camera, Kohistan, Pakistan, 2010

11-2

A girl lights a candle to continue studying after a power outage, in a KnK Home, India, 2005

Lens craft

10-1

“Twilight Flow”
Jiufen, Taiwan.
by Stirling Elmendorf

 

10-3
Lenses aft
Photographers await the first public appearance of the new emperor, April 4.
by Albert Siegel

 

10-2
Spring is in the air
PM Shinzo Abe (along with his security personnel) runs to greet his guests at a cherry-blossom viewing party. Shinjukugyoen, Tokyo, April 13.
by Yoshikazu Tsuno

Faking ourselves to death

09-1

The author of a new book says the quality of reporting in Japan under the Abe government is in dangerous decline.


By David McNeill

Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect in January 2017 set the discordant tone for the two years to follow. The hour-long encounter with a sullen media corps was seasoned with Trump’s now familiar insults and sleights of hand. 

A stack of folders on a nearby podium was “proof” that he had divested his business interests to ensure no conflict of interest. Claims that Russia had helped send Trump to the White House, or had compromising information on his exotic sexual peccadillos, were a “pile of garbage.” Obamacare was a “complete and total disaster.” CNN reporter Jim Acosta was told to be quiet when he tried to ask a question. “You are fake news,” said Trump, eyeing him with contempt.

It was entertaining stuff. Many voters, after all, had dispatched Trump to Washington in anticipation of these bad-tempered showdowns with the “libtard” media. For Japan-watchers, however, the event was thin gruel. Apart from a single non-sequitur at the end, when Japan was cited – along with Russia, China and Mexico – as countries that had “taken total advantage” economically of America, there was no mention of its closest Pacific ally. 

So when Yoichiro Tateiwa watched the Japanese media’s take the following day, he was astonished to see banner headlines about a looming trade war. “They read: ‘Trump criticized Japan for trade issues,’” Tateiwa says. “But I wondered: Did he even mention Japan? I had to go back and check the record.”

Tateiwa is a former NHK staff reporter who left the broadcaster in 2016 to take up a fellowship at the American University in Washington. He has just written a book, Toranpu Houdou no Feiku to Fakkuto (Fact and Fakery in Media Coverage of Trump, Kamogawa Shuppan, 2019) that draws on his comparative knowledge of media systems in both countries. He believes the Japanese reporters took their cue not from the actual press conference, but from Yoshihide Suga, the government’s chief cabinet secretary. “The political reporters asked Suga what the Japanese stance was and Suga said: ‘This trade issue is serious and we have to discuss it,’” says Tateiwa. In other words, Suga single-handedly spun the story that Trump’s election meant trouble for Japan.

 

09-2


THAT’S WORRYING ENOUGH, BUT it indicates a bigger problem, says Tateiwa: stories in the Japanese media often do not name their sources. Or source, since many important stories are propped up by a single anonymous voice in the government. That’s a recipe for manipulation, he warns.

American political journalism has hardly covered itself in glory either, given how it was hoodwinked over calamitous wars in the Middle East. Tateiwa agrees, but says journalists there have become more careful. As evidence, he cites the Washington Post’s scoop on alleged Russian meddling in Trump’s election and the role of Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor. “The newspaper confirmed with nine former government officials who had access to the records of conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador (in 2016),” he says. “The Japanese media doesn’t do that.”

Elite spin is most evident in the media’s coverage of North Korea, says Tateiwa. When Kim Jong Un agreed to meet Trump in Singapore last June, Japanese officials fretted that prematurely rewarding Kim for coming to the negotiating table could leave the North’s missiles pointed at Japan. And would the quixotic Trump grill Kim about Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s, a particular priority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? Someone in the Abe government decided that journalists needed a carrot, says Tateiwa. Up popped a story on Fuji TV claiming without evidence that far from being diplomatically shoved aside, Japan had in fact facilitated the Trump-Kim meeting. “I was like, really?” says Tateiwa, laughing. 

After Singapore, a nervous looking Abe spoke briefly to the local press, warning that the abductions would have to be solved by Japan alone, seemingly confirming that the issue was a very low priority for Trump. The next day, almost the entire Japanese media ran the story that Trump had in fact discussed the abduction issue with Kim, who had ‘responded positively.’ The sources for this claim were anonymous. “Given what Abe said the night before, I really doubt that conversation took place,” says Tateiwa.


“SOMEONE WAS MANIPULATING THE media,” he continues. “I suspect it was one person who was the source on North Korea – and they don’t name him. He tells reporters: ‘I can tell you what Trump really said to Abe – that the abduction issue is very important and he is open to dialogue.’ We know it is a lie but . . . .”

“The stories are attributed to a ‘source close to the Japan-US relationship’ or ‘someone in the US government,’ Tateiwa says. “You cannot just say ‘someone in the American government – there is no ‘American government!’ It should be ‘someone related to the White House’, or ‘someone in the State Department.’ 

Tateiwa says even the “liberal” Japanese media swallow the most unlikely stories when it comes to Pyongyang. He cites one Asahi TV report in 2017 claiming that the American military was preparing for a conventional attack because the North “would not retaliate.” 

“I was stunned because what the secretary of defense [James Mattis] said was completely different,” he says. The conventional wisdom on all sides was that any attempt to dislodge the Kim regime by force risked setting off a ruinous conventional war that would destroy Seoul, about 40km south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. “Now Japanese TV was saying that the US forces had entirely changed their stance by preparing for a pinpoint attack,” says Tateiwa. “Nobody in America ran that, so it was clearly coming from a Japanese source. Again, somebody in the government was tipping the media. And the way the Japanese media uses sources it could almost be anyone.”


AS EVGENY MOROZOV, AUTHOR of Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, has pointed out, there’s nothing new about exaggerated or fabricated news. False stories helped goad America into war with Spain in 1898; faked reports of Iraqi troops yanking babies from incubators in Kuwait in 1990 and the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” provided the rationale for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But fake news has recently been turbo-charged by at least three factors: the Internet and the digital monopolies that dominate it, the erosion of journalistic resources and standards, and a mass cynicism about public institutions, including the media. The timing was perfect for the rise of an unscrupulous political huckster. 

At least, according to Tateiwa, most journalists in the United States are onto Trump. “Here, nobody knows who is spreading the fake news,” he says. “And what is worse is that the reporters here believe they are doing a good job. But they are being manipulated and used. There is far less transparency in this country, so I think the situation here is more serious.”

Reporters are part of the deception, he says. Abe, for example, “is rarely caught saying anything stupid” because the questions are sent to him before each encounter with the media. “The reporters like that too: sending the question in advance means they can prepare their stories before the press conference even starts. That’s what they call good journalism.”

Tateiwa’s solutions are as straightforward as they are difficult to achieve. He says reporters must be trained to fact check and seek out multiple sources. He has founded an NPO called FactCheck Initiative Japan for this purpose, and is writing a new book on the subject. He also wants more US-style journalism courses taught in Japan. “I’m not saying that American journalism is good – they’ve failed a thousand times. But they do investigative journalism there and they have to use sources in a more precise way – they have to keep digging for their stories, otherwise people say it is fake news.” 

The alternative is that Japanese newspapers and TV keep being used by the government. “So long as they keep doing what they are doing, any type of politician can manipulate the press.” ❶


David McNeill writes for the Irish Times and the Economist and teaches media and politics at Hosei University.
Yoichiro Tateiwa at the Club in 2018

Emiko Jozuka, CNN

08


By Ilgin Yorulmaz

In the summer of 2008, Emiko Jozuka, then a junior at the University of Cambridge, was assisting one of her professors with an archeological excavation in Mersin, a major town in southern Turkey, when she got invited to a wedding.

She was so intrigued by the friendly locals in the village who invited her into their homes that she became more interested in digging into their everyday lives than the excavation. Despite having to rely on a Turkish-English dictionary, Jozuka never missed a chance to hang out with them as soon as she finished her daily shift.

“They called me a ‘wedding queen’ as I ended up going to all the weddings in that village and beyond that summer,” she says.
Now a Hong Kong-based digital producer for CNN, Jozuka says this chance encounter kick-started her interest in telling human stories. She returned to the Turkish village the next summer to improve her language skills, adding to the French, Spanish and Portuguese she had learned as a languages, literature and film major at Cambridge.

Upon graduation, Jozuka spent a month learning documentary making in Cuba. She then decided to crack into journalism as a freelance reporter in Turkey for the Hurriyet Daily News (HDN), the country’s oldest English-language paper, while also teaching English in Istanbul. She started out interviewing expat diplomats, artists and journalists, which she calls “ironic” for someone who wanted to learn more about what Turkish people thought.

But this “sideways angle” of seeing Turkey through a foreign lens was indispensable in her later work as a foreign-educated Japanese looking into various issues faced by certain countries, including her own – a unique position she has enjoyed since the beginning of her career.

Jozuka emigrated with her Japanese parents to the UK when she was just three years old. Speaking Japanese at home and visiting Japan once a year during school holidays enabled her to keep close ties to her native country. Her father was Asia’s first motorsports photojournalist and covered everything from Formula One to the Paris-Dakar rallies over a career spanning nearly five decades since the ’60s. It wasn’t long before Jozuka also caught the journalism bug, proving the old Japanese saying, Kaeru no ko wa kaeru, (literally, “The child of a frog is a frog”), or “Like father, like daughter in this case,” Jozuka says.

Turkey provided the perfect backdrop to cultivate her interest as a documentarist. During her freelance gig at the HDN, she took every chance to cover art, film and environmental festivals across Turkey “so I could learn the language faster and understand the country better,” she says. Another chance encounter with indie Kurdish filmmakers at an international film festival led to jobs as a script developer, production staff and freelance reporter in southeastern Turkey.
Her guiding principle through her work then and now has always been “to give voice to the people who lack it.” The fast pace of the international news agenda left Jozuka feeling disillusioned with her role. “I felt like my stories weren’t having much of an impact. . . . It was only later on that my editor at the time told me that the articles we’d worked on were being picked up by academics and local news groups outside of Turkey,” she says.

After a period in southeastern Turkey and along the Turkish-Syrian border, Jozuka decided to return to school in 2013 for a master’s degree in visual, material and museum anthropology at Oxford University. But she quickly realized she wasn’t cut out for an academic life. So she turned her attention to science and technology reporting.

During stints in London at Wired magazine and later at Motherboard, the technology portal by the online news outlet VICE, she became interested in the intersections of society, culture and technology. She reported in depth on Senegalese game developers, Kurdish Google, and sought to explore the impact of technology on people.

Jozuka started working for CNN in August, 2016. In 2018, she travelled to Japan on a Pulitzer Center grant to produce five stories on the country’s much publicized demographic time bomb. Her stories ranged from Japan’s vacant housing issue and immigration to childcare and the elderly, documenting solutions that communities had come up with to deal with these challenges.

Her main reservation with foreign media’s Japan coverage is the danger of missing cultural nuances, and misinterpreting seemingly weird but ultimately human stories. “Growing up [overseas], I didn’t have such a great image of Japan, because it had been filtered through the western media’s take of it,” she says.

She gives the example of one recent story on the Japanese man who married a hologram, and how that challenged her own assumptions. “Many people think that people like him are odd and have cut ties with other humans, but he had a normal social life and just did what made him happy,” she says.
Another story recently was on a group of female members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). It featured, among others, a 23-year-old actress-turned-navy recruit who had been deeply moved by a trip last year to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s war zones and decided to join the military.

“These girls had joined the army for a sense of adventure, ambition and career trajectory,” says Jozuka. No wonder she chose to feature them; the same passion seems to follow her everywhere, whether it’s a small village in Turkey or a bustling city like Tokyo. ❶

Ilgin Yorulmaz is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to BBC World Turkish-language service.

Watching the watchers

A photo series that explores how the traditions of Japan are often disrespected by foreign tourists and point out the problems that the Geiko (Geisha) face on a daily basis in Gion, Kyoto.

Alzbeta Kossuthova asked herself how much discrimination against foreigners was brought on by their own discriminatory behavior in a photo essay that the judges described as “compelling.”

Alzbeta Kossuthova is a graduate student at Waseda University

 

An almost unnoticed Geiko.

07-3


Prohibited behavior in pictures for non-Japanese speakers.

07-1

 

Traditional beauty – Maiko performance at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

07-2

 

Categories

Tags

Go to top