MEDIA IN JAPAN: RADIO, NEWSPAPERS, TELEVISION, NHK AND PRIVACY

MEDIA IN JAPAN

20100501-PRESSE japan-photo.de.jpg The broadcast media in Japan is highly regulated and careful not to offend the ruling politcal party. A very popular political satire in the 1940s and 50s was cancelled in 1954 after the American occupation ended, setting the tone of the postwar era. It was the first example of freedom of opinion being suppressed. People in the media worry about going too far and having the same thing happen to them.

Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed by the constitution of Japan as a fundamental human right. Japan’s high literacy rate and its people’s thirst for new and stimulating information has sustained the mass media’s appeal. In the past several decades, advances in computer and digital-communications technology have brought many changes to existing print and broadcast media while also creating a brand new mass media in the form of the Internet-based World Wide Web. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

The media often seems to cover stories in a way that supports the political agenda of Japan leaders. Certain subjects can not be criticized such a the Imperial Family or the government’s portrayal of North Korea as a wicked country. If someone dares to challenge these views they not only have to face wrath of scornful politicians they also have to deal with far-right extremist who have threatened and tried to assassinate people who presented views they didn’t like.

Japanese on average watch television 164 minutes a day. Japan has the world's second largest television advertising market after the United States. Detsu is Japan’s largest advertising firm.

A number of foreign media organizations have moved their offices from Japan to China. In 1992, a record 345 media oulets were in Tokyo. By 2012 the number had fallen to 2012. In the meantime the number of media outlets in Beijing rose to 356 in 2011 from 210 in 2004. [Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

Websites and Resources

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Links in this Website: MEDIA, RADIO, NEWSPAPERS AND TELEVISION IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; TELEVISION PROGRAMS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; CHILDREN’s TELEVISION SHOWS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; INTERNET IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; COMMUNICATIONS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; CELL PHONES IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; USES OF CELL PHONES IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ;

Good Websites and Sources: Good Photos at Japan-Photo Archive japan-photo.de ; Japanese Newspapers and Media sabotenweb.com ; The Evolution of TV in Japan www.nhk.or.jp ; Media and Communications in Japan japanesestudies.org.uk ; Media Intimidation in Japan japanesestudies.org.uk ; Statistical Handbook of Japan Media Section stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook ; 2010 Edition stat.go.jp/english/data/nenkan ; News stat.go.jp

Japanese English-Language Newspapers: Daily Yomirui yomiuri.co.jp/dy ; Japan Times japantimes.co ; Asahi Shimbun with the International Herald Tribune asahi.com ; Mainichi Daily in English mdn.mainichi.jp ; Japanese Television Stations NHK nhk.or.jp ; Nippon Television Network (NTV) ntv.co.jp ; Fuji Network fujitv.co.jp/en ; TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) News (in Japanese) news.tbs.co.jp ; TV Asahi company.tv-asahi.co ; CNN on Japan topics.cnn.com ;

Radio Streaming Radio on DMOZ DMOZ ; DVDs Japanese, Chinese and Korean CDs and DVDs at Yes Asia yesasia.com ; Japanese, Chinese and Korean CDs and DVDs at Zoom Movie zoommovie.com ; CD Japan cdjapan.co.jp ;

Censorship and Privacy in Japan

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Moonlight Mask,
The Ghost Party Strikes Back
Even though nudity is a common sight on late night television, there are long lists of words that can not be uttered on Japanese television or printed in Japanese newspapers. When a prohibited words is uttered by a guest on a talk show a Chinese character meaning "prohibited" flashes over the guest's face and a buzzer drowns out the word.

These word include relatively mundane references to people who are short, fat, bald or left-handed---that have been deemed as impolite or offensive. Even the word onna, the most commonly used word for a woman, is not printed because of its association with the second-class status of women.

Uncensored version "Lady Chartterly's Lovers" was not officially published until 1996. Photographs with pubic hair in Playboy-style magazines and arty photograph books were once banned but are now tolerated.

News footage often has faces, handcuffed hands, and automobile license plates blurred or jumbled for privacy reasons. Even passing cars have their license plate numbers blurred out.

Children's shows have shown footage of baby hippos eating the feces of their mothers, and sometimes features songs about the joys of defecating. Prime time programs show children going to the bathroom and double turnips with penises and vaginas.

Media mob scenes are the norm. Anytime there is major story or scandal huge pushy crowds of photographers, reporters and television crews appear.

Shortcoming of Japan’s News Reporting

Roland Kelts wrote in the Daily Yomiuri, “Japan's corrupt society of "press clubs" give voice to the major players who support them. The government issues a statement, journalists dutifully record it, and all bask in the glow of a brutally efficient PR release, disguised as journalism. Democracy, as someone once said, is messy. Japanese politicians and their docile toadies in the media don't like "messiness." Hence the latest step in government efforts to control what you see and read.

Takashi Uesugi is a freelance reporter and the host of a call-in, talk show on Tokyo FM. He once worked for NHK Television but has since attracted a large following for his provocative criticism of Japanese news organizations and the government, particularly after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In an television interview, he raised the prospect of a meltdown and was told he wouldn’t be invited back on the air. He told The New Yorker the Japanese public was “brainwashed.” “They can’t judge for themselves,” he said. “Everyone thinks that what the government says is right. Everyone thinks that what the government officials say is the truth. But they don’t believe independent journalists, or what’s on the Internet, or what’s on Twitter.” [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, March 28, 2011]

Japanese Television

Television sets: 1 per 1.2 people (compared per 102 people in Madagascar and 1 per 1.2 people in the United States).

One survey of industrialized countries found that the United States and Japan watch the most television, 4 ½ hours a day. Another survey found that the average Japanese watches nearly an hour more of television a day than the average American. Even so, television viewership is shrinking. Top shows rarely make it over the 16 percent mark.

Tokyo Sky Tree, in Sumida Ward Tokyo, will be the world’s tallest structure when it is completed in 2011. Originally called New Tokyo Tower, it is a 610-meter-high radio TV transmitter tower that will be used by NHK and five commercial televison stations. The tower will be higher than 333-meter-high Tokyo Tower and the world’s tallest freestanding structure, the 553-meter-high CN Tower in Toronto. Built by Tobu Railway, Tokyo Sky Tree is expected to cost ¥50 billion. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2008. NHK and the five commercial broadcasters plan to use it for transmissions when they permanently shift from analog to terrestrial digital broadcasting. Among matters that still need to be worked out are aviation restrictions that limit the tower’s height.

History of Television in Japan

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Moonlight Mask
Television debuted in Japan on February 1, 1953 with the first broadcast by the government-owned Nippon Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). At that time NHK had only one studio with three cameras and broadcasted to 866 viewers wealthy enough to pay ¥200-a month subscription fee and ¥180,000 for a 20-inch black-and-white television. The broadcasting system in Japan began as a copy of the American broadcasting system. The first private station, NTV, an affiliate of the Yomiuri shimbun, began broadcasting in August 1953. Back then a company could sponsor a 30-minute prime time program for ¥150,000. TBS arrived in 1955. By the time Crown Prince Akihito---now the Emperor---married Michiko Shoda, Fuji, TV Asahi, NHK-Educational, were all on the air.

In its first few years, television was a luxury commodity that only a few could afford, and large crowds would often gather around television sets set up in front of railway stations and other places for a chance to watch sumo wrestling and other sports events. Within five years of its introduction, the number of registered owners of television receivers passed the 1-million mark. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

The royal wedding of Crown Prince (now Emperor) Akihito and Princess Michiko in April 1959 and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 were important milestones in television broadcasting in Japan. Many Japanese bought television just to watch these events. A year before the royal, wedding there were 1 million television sets in Japan. A few months after there were 3 million.

“When color broadcasts began in September 1960, sales rose rapidly. By 1962, ownership of color and black-and-white models had increased tenfold, to over 10 million---just under half of the country’s households. The Tokyo Olympics in 1964 further accelerated the growth in television set ownership. Whereas in the late 1950s, the so-called “three sacred treasures” of household consumer goods were black-and-white televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators, the new “three sacred treasures” during the period of economic growth became color televisions, air conditioners, and automobiles. [Ibid]

“Japanese color televisions, renowned for their high quality, became one of Japan’s main export items as their technical capabilities rose year after year. Japan has also contributed innovative new technologies to the world, including its experimental broadcasts of the world’s first sound multiplex system, beginning in 1978, and the development of the world’s first plasma display televisions in 1992. [Ibid]

Satellite and Digital Broadcasting in Japan

Full-scale NHK broadcast satellite (BS) broadcasts began in 1989 with two channels. In 1991 Japan’s first commercial BS channel, called WOWOW, was introduced. Analog format communications satellite (CS) broadcasts began in 1992, and digital CS broadcasts were started by PerfecTV (now SKY PerfecTV) in 1996. In December 2000 BS digital broadcasts began with 10 television channels as well as radio and data transmission channels. Terrestrial digital television broadcasting allows large volumes of different information such as sound, images and text to be sent at one time by compressing the image or sound signal. This not only improves the quality of the functions such as image and sound that analog television already provides, but allows new services to be provided, as well. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

“In addition to clear and detailed high-definition images and high-quality sound, the Japanese standard “ISDB-T” (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting---Terrestrial) allows transmission of text data which form subtitles for news, weather or traffic information; simultaneous transmission of multiple programs on one channel; interactive television and so on. The text data transmission allows elderly viewers or people with disabilities to easily access essential information. Simultaneous transmission allows the broadcasting of scheduled programs at the same time as live broadcasts from a sporting facility if the sporting event over runs its time slot. Interactive television allows the viewers to participate in television programs via an Internet connection. ISDB-T with its many useful features is being introduced not only in Japan but also across the globe. In Japan, cable television companies have been gradually switching to digital television broadcasting since 1998. Some private TV companies and the Japanese public TV company NHK began digital television broadcasting in 2003. In July 2011, analog broadcasting was shut down with the exception of certain prefectures affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. [Ibid]

In July 2012, terrestrial TV broadcasting became completely digitalized, except in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The government postponed the start of land-based digital TV broadcasting in the three prefectures until the end of March. Sales of flat-screen televisions increased as people rushed to buy them in time for digitalization. Digital service began in December 2003, around Tokyo, Osaka and a few other places. By December 2006, Ground-based digital broadcasting was available in all 47 of Japan’s prefectures. The complete changeover to digital is expensive for television stations who have to buy a lot of new equipment and television viewers who will have to buy new televisions.

The switch from analog to digital was expected to generate $249 billion worth of business and produce 170,000 jobs. In preparation for the switchover to digital television the Japanese government hoped to recruit 200,000 volunteers, including Boy Scouts and several people dressed in electricity deer mascot suit, to make sure everyone was prepared, especially elderly people that didn’t have a clue what was going on.

Japanese Television Technology

Today Japan still leads the world in TV technologies, including 3D televisions and organic EL displays. The development of information technologies has set the stage for the convergence of broadcast media and telecommunications, which until now have been two discrete sectors. The launch of “one-segment broadcasts” in 2006, which let viewers watch TV on their mobile phones, is one example. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world's largest television was a Sony Jumbo Tron color television screen used at the Tsukuba International exposition in 1985 near Tokyo. It measured 80 by 150 feet. Sony produced the world's largest screen at 2005 Aichi Expo. It was 2005 inches wide.

Television remotes in Japan have a button that allows viewers to choose between English, Japanese, or both languages at the same time. With the news, for example, viewers can choose between the original Japanese transmission or English dubbing; with a Hollywood film, they can choose between the English soundtrack or Japanese dubbing.

Channels with interactive digital television---in which viewers can to talk to their televisions using a mouse or remote---and high-definition broadcasts, with CD quality sound are beginning to catch on as their costs come down.

VCR play buttons in Japan point the opposite direction as their counterparts in the United States. Some hotels have coin operated televisions.

New Japanese Television Technology

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New communications satellite
In 1996, Fujitsu and other Japanese electronic companies introduced the first flat screen televisions using plasma-technology panels. Early models sold for $10,000.

After being heralded as the next big and sucking up $8.3 billion in research and start up costs, analog high definition television (HDTV) was obsolete before it even fully reached the market. It lost out to digital HDTV, which, with the help of an inexpensive "smart box," could combine the function of a television and a computer. Analog uses radio waves to transmit information while digital uses a computer style code that is cheaper to broadcast.

One Seg, a new terrestrial digital broadcasting service that enables television programs to be played on mobile phones, car navigation systems and other portable devices, was introduced in April 2006. It broadcasts in high definition and uses a frequency band allotted to each broadcaster that is divide into 13 segments: 12 for fixed reception and the 13th for new portable devises.

TV Bank is web television service run by Yahoo and Softbank that offers more 100,000 programs and movies including Time-Warner films, and Korean and Taiwanese dramas .

In 2008, a new system called “dubbing 10" was introduced that outfit DVD recorders with software that allowed them to make 10 legal copies of a digital program rather than the previous one. Earlier system were prevented from making more than one copy by encryption system called Copy Once that was sent with the program in the broadcast signal.

The Pioneer company has developed a jacket with a television in its sleeve. The screen is made of an paper-thin electro-luminescent material

See Economics, Industry, Electronics Industry, Blue Ray, Flat Screen televisions,

Japanese Television Stations

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Fuji TV truck
There are five major private broadcasters: NTV, TBS, Fuji, TV Asahi and KTV. Fuji TV, a media conglomerate, is know for its “unabashed entertainment values and a finger on the public mood. Tokyo Broadcasting is one of Japan’s largest television companies. TV Asahi and KTV are two other main commercial stations. WOWWOW is a movie channel.

Fuji Television is one of Japan’s largest television and film producers. Not unlike the Fox Network in the United States, it is known for loud, trashy, obnoxious, low-brow shows. It fills many of its time slots with quiz shows with ditsy celebrities that seem perplexed by the dumbest questions and are infamous for their ridiculous answers. Other Japanese television stations have copied the Fuji format.

Cable and satellite television have not made the penetration in the Japanese market as it has in other countries. Cable television packages tend to be very expensive and offer only a few channels.

Television ratings in Japan are determined, like Nielsen ratings in other countries, with little boxes that are placed on the televisions of some viewers. The boxes record which shows the viewer watches. The were calls for the system to be changed when a producer with the NTV television company was caught trying to bride people being surveyed for television ratings to watch shows from his network. He used ¥10 million production funds to boost the rating of his show 0.1 points.

The president of KTV resigned over false data scandal, including fabricated data on the benefits of natto (a kind of fermted beans), lemons and wasabi. Stores had runs on natto after the show claimed people could easily lose weight if they ate natto everyday for breakfast and lunch.

Advertising revenues are declining, viewerships is declining and there are predictions that one two or three of the five major broadcasters will be around 10 years from now.

NHK

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Fuji building at Odaiba
The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) is Japan's public broadcasting corporation. It began as a radio station, then expanded into terrestrial and then satellite TV. It runs two channels on regular television (NHK, and NHK Educational) and two channels (BS 1 and BS 2) on its satellite network which you need a dish to pick up. These channels have no commercials and have a mix of dramas, news, sports and features. Some broadcast are done simultaneously in Japanese and English (with a device on your television you can watch either language or both at the same time). NHK Educational has the unusual distinction of featuring language classes in nine different languages.

Radio broadcasts in Japan date from 1926, but until the end of World War II they were monopolized by the government-affiliated Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK:Japan Broadcasting Corporation). A new broadcasting law that came into effect in 1950 resulted in NHK being reorganized as a special corporation that is neither state-operated nor private. Unlike private companies, NHK’s activities are subject to restrictions by the government. Decisions regarding programming and other matters are made by the Management Commission, a governing body whose members are appointed by the prime minister after obtaining the Diet’s approval. NHK radio and television do not broadcast commercial advertising. About 98 percent of operating revenues are obtained from monthly viewer fees. NHK television made its debut in Tokyo in February 1953. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

NHK World TV is received by 72 million households in 180 countries via satellite and cable hook ups. As of 2006, 70 percent of the programming was available in English. The plan is to increase the figure to 100 percent by 2010. NHK World Premium service provides programs for a fee to satellite and cable television broadcasters.

NHK has lots of money and employees. In 2005 it earned about ¥650 billion a year from household fees (96 percent of it total revenues) and employed 12,000 people. With the money it earns from the monthly fees it has built pricey skyscrapers on choice downtown Tokyo real estate and sent reporters to set up bureaus all over the world, some of whom have little to do and pop up in broadcasts only once or twice a year. In 1988, NHK spent $12 million to do a live broadcast from Mt, Everest and then cut short the broadcast to switch to a baseball game

NHK began broadcasting internationally in 1995. NHK World was launched in 2009 and reached 124 million households by its first anniversary but still few people watch it. The number of people who watched it once a month was about 4.5 percent in Washington and 14.9 percent in Hong Kong.

NHK seems to be under the wing of the government, covering issues that the government wants it to and ignoring others. In 2001, NHK gave into government requests to soften a documentary on Japan’s wartime sex slaves. In 2006, a communications minister made a remark that he intended to order NHK too provide more coverage f the North Korea abduction issue on its international radio broadcasts.

NHK Tweeks Its Programming after Viewing Fees Reduced

Households have to pay a $10 a month fee to NHK for access to their stations. Under Japan’s Broadcast law anyone with a television set must conclude a reception contract with NHK. As of March 2010, 48 million households and businesses were obliged to make such contracts. The nature of television viewing is changing as increasingly viewers are watching television programming on their computers and cell phones. There is some discussion about adopting a public system in which everybody pays. Most Japanese pay the fee. It is either collected door to door or taken from bank accounts, There is no penalty for nonpayment. In contrast, British viewer pay about 70 percent more and face a 1,000 pound fine or imprisonment if they don’t pay.

In October 2012, Koji Hatamoto wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun, “With the start of reductions in TV subscription fees this month, NHK has to come up with ways to make up for the loss in its income. Using more young celebrities in programs and attempting to expand its Internet business, the public broadcaster appears to be experimenting with new types of programming, but some viewers have questioned the need for such moves. [Source: Koji Hatamoto, Yomiuri Shimbun, October 24, 2012]

In recent years, comedians and other young idle "actors" who previously did not appear often in NHK programs have become a staple in the broadcaster's shows. Such a trend has been widely seen not only in entertainment programs, but also in other programs, including documentaries covering topics in history, science and art. In fact, the broadcaster produces shows using methods employed by commercial TV stations, such as relying on popular guests and casts. "We receive comments that our programs are becoming more like those of commercial broadcasters everytime we meet with our viewers," said a sour-looking Kenichiro Hamada, chairman of the Board of Governors. [Ibid]

NHK, however, also has a say in the matter. "Conveying correct information to viewers is the mission of noncommercial broadcasters," a senior NHK employee said. "We have to make younger viewers who depend on the Internet for information also watch TV," the employee added, emphasizing NHK's current policy is aimed at attracting younger viewers. Put simply, NHK believes that appealing to the younger generation, who will bear the burden of paying its viewing fees in the future, will eventually lead to stable management in the long term. [Ibid]

"The fact that NHK is leaning toward programs similar to those shown on commercial TV stations proves it hasn't cultivated programs for younger viewers that stay true to NHK's character," said Hiroyoshi Sunakawa, associate professor of media studies at Rikkyo University. [Ibid]

Most NHK news programs are available online after they are broadcast. More dramas and documentaries are also becoming available on a pay-per-view basis on the broadcaster's "NHK On Demand" service. [Ibid]

NHK Reforms?

In the early 2000s, NHK was hit by several scandals, including one involving a producer who spent NHK money on expensive restaurant meals and expensive vacations, and the refusal of viewers to pay the subscription fees. In 2005, an NHK reporter in Otsu was arrested in arson charges and the number of household that refused to pay NHK fees peaked at 1.28 million. In March 2008 three NHK employees were charged with insider trader.

In recent years there been a lot of discussion about reforming NHK. One proposal; called for reducing its workforce by 10 percent and imposing penalties for people who don’t pay the fee and reducing the number of channels available. Another proposal calls for NHK to trim its fees 20 percent.

Koji Hatamoto wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun, “In July 2011, year, an advisory panel headed by NHK President Masayuki Matsumoto studied NHK's subscription fees among other issues. The panel came up with bold plans for the future, such as: 1) Creating a general subscription fee contract by combining current terrestrial and satellite contracts. 2) Simultaneous online and TV broadcasting for programs. 3) Collecting viewing fees from Internet audiences. [Source: Koji Hatamoto, Yomiuri Shimbun, October 24, 2012]

To carry out these reforms, the Broadcast Law will need to be revised. If such changes occur, the number of people who watch NHK programs online via smartphones and other devices will increase, making it possible for NHK to rake in subscription fees even if fewer people spend time in front of the TV. [Ibid]

A senior NHK employee said, "The proposals [by the panel] are ideal, but problems remain.” For instance, in creating a new general viewing fee contract, NHK's revenues will decrease if it sets the fee equal to its terrestrial contract. On the other hand, if the broadcaster sets the fee equal to its satellite contract, it will have to impose a fee hike to those who only watch terrestrial channels. [Ibid]

Meanwhile, commercial TV stations are fiercely opposed to simultaneous broadcasting for NHK's web and TV programs, saying the move would cause NHK to deviate from its role as a public broadcaster. Supposing NHK goes ahead with its reform plans, the key commercial broadcasters will have no option but to follow suit. As a result, programs produced by Tokyo-based stations will become immediately available nationwide without restriction, putting pressure on the management of commercial broadcasters outside Tokyo. During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hamada clearly expressed his intention to promote the plans. [Ibid]

Japanese TV Stations Looking for New Markets in Asia

Takamichi Asakawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “Key commercial TV stations in Tokyo have begun producing programs in Asia in earnest, targeting fast-growing Asian markets for long-term profits. Some have signed business tie-ups with local TV stations, and one has even started a TV program production company in Asia. They expect to drum up business opportunities by attracting Asian viewers to Japan by featuring appealing settings and locations in the programs, as well as sponsors keen to sell their goods in Asian countries via commercials. [Source: Takamichi Asakawa, Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2012]

TV Tokyo airs anime series that are popular worldwide, such as Pokemon and Naruto. The TV station aims to use new original anime as a tool to crack open the enormous Chinese market. Collaborating with a Chinese production firm, TV Tokyo plans to release a theatrical version of the full computer graphic-animated series Train Hero, which tells the story of a rescue team that handles disasters on high-speed trains that crisscross the world. As China has strict restrictions on broadcasting foreign-made programs, TV Tokyo hopes the collaboration will help it gain a foothold and develop long-term profits in China. "Through this project, we're trying to gradually advance into the Chinese market," said Yukio Kawasaki, TV Tokyo's animation bureau head. [Ibid]

Hoshi no Kinka (Heaven's Coins), a hit drama series on the NTV network during the 1990s, will be remade in Taiwan this summer. NTV and CTiTV Inc., a major Taiwan cable TV station, jointly established CNplus Production Inc. in May 2011. Generally speaking, when a Japanese TV station jointly produces a program with a foreign station, it gives little regard to profits. Therefore, it is unusual that a joint company was established for that purpose. As Taiwan is close geographically to China and is said to be friendly toward Japan, NTV hopes to generate an original business model for Asia in Taiwan. Renamed White Love in Chinese, the drama was filmed in Hokkaido--the same location as the original series--with the aim of attracting Taiwan viewers to Japanese tourist spots. Atsushi Hatayama, the vice president of CNplus Production who is overseeing the firm on behalf of NTV, said: "The remake is an attempt to confirm whether our plan of producing programs to suit Taiwan tastes can become a business there. We'll provide the know-how for program production to our Taiwan partner.” [Ibid]

TBS concluded a business tie-up with MediaCorp, a group of Singaporean commercial media companies, and in December 2011, aired Mooncake, a love story costarring a Singaporean actor and a Japanese actress, in both countries. They aired another program in the summer of 2012 that introduces Japanese fashion to young Singaporeans. Osamu Kamizono, an assistant manager of the TBS bureau in charge of next-generation business projects, said: "We're making programs with a company in multicultural Singapore, which is located in central Southeast Asia. This should enable us to gain a foothold in other parts of Asia.” [Ibid]

Fuji TV is looking to spread its influence by selling its TV formulas--the framework and rules of a program--worldwide. Given that its original program Ryori no Tetsujin (Iron Chef) has a large following in Asia, Fuji TV sold the format to a Thai TV station and sent staff to give the Thai station technical guidance. Iron Chef Thailand began airing in January, and a Vietnamese TV station started airing its own version in early May. Toru Miyazawa, Fuji TV's department head in charge of program production and development, said: "Selling TV formats is not the end of our work. We'll make efforts to create more interesting programs and get more customers.” [Ibid]

Asahi TV’s Effort to Expand in Asian Markets

Takamichi Asakawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “A new anime Ninja Hattori-kun, which was made in India, has been airing in the country since mid-May. Ninja Hattori-kun is based on a manga by cartoonist Fujiko Fujio A. Shin-Ei Animation Co., a subsidiary of TV Asahi and a major anime production firm in Japan, has concluded a business tie-up with an Indian production company. The Japanese firm has produced Doraemon and many other popular anime. Hattori-kun's new series is an original anime drawn and edited by Indian staff. [Source: Takamichi Asakawa, Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2012]

In India, Hattori-kun series produced in Japan have aired since 2006 and are popular among children. While the settings in the Indian-produced version will remain Japanese, the series' content will be tailored toward Indian children. For instance, stories often revolve around bicycles and watches--which are popular among children there. "One time a local artist drew a scene in which the characters entered a tatami room while still wearing shoes. So at first, we had to teach them about aspects of Japanese culture, such as how people hold chopsticks," said Kazuhiko Akatsu, a TV Asahi sales department head. [Ibid]

Since 2010, TV Asahi has been promoting a project involving many of its departments to spread its own animations across the world. The station's first target is India, where rapid economic growth has translated to remarkable expansion of the entertainment market and the under-15 population exceeds 300 million. "People remember anime they watched when they were kids. Because many Indian children are fans of Japanese anime, they could become a major market hungry for more anime in the future," Akatsu said. [Ibid]

Panasonic Corp., a major audiovisual and household electrical appliance maker, has offered to sponsor the new series. As South Korean manufacturers have a strong grip on India's home appliances market, TV Asahi and Panasonic plan to appeal to Indian consumers by featuring the anime characters in commercials for electronic products. [Ibid]

TV Asahi eventually aims to constantly produce anime at a low cost in Asian countries before distributing them worldwide. "The first priority is to have this system take root in India so we can make a profit. We want to take it to the level where locals say Hattori-kun is an original Indian animation," Akatsu said. [Ibid]

Japanese Radio

Radios: 1 per 1.3 people (compared 1 per 58 people in Mali and 2 per person in the United States).

NHK’s shortwave Radio Japan broadcast 65 hours of programing everyday in 22 languages.

Japanese Print Media

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In a 2010 survey by the Japan Newspapers Publishers and Editors association 90 percent of respondents said they read at least newspapers at least five days a week and newspapers remain a “key medium.” The world's most well read people, as judged by the number of newspapers bought daily per 1,000 people, are: 1) Japan (579); 2) Liechtenstein (558); 3) Germany (530); 4) Sweden (530); 5) Finland (515); 6) Norway (483); 7) Britain (421); 8) Iceland (420); 9) Monaco (410). In constant, only 15 per 1,000 in Pakistan get a newspaper.

Kyodo is Japan's leading news service.

Japan's major newspaper have nationwide circulation as well as morning and evening editions, both of which subscribers usually receive. "Sports newspapers" are the Japanese equivalent of the tabloids. Gossip magazines and shows get a lot of attention. Jinsei sodan are Ann Landers-style advise columnists.

It can be argued that the Japanese print media is much more vibrant than its American counterpart in part because Japanese read newspapers, magazines and books on their long train commutes,

Newspaper advertising revenues have fallen as more and more people are getting their news online. Ordinary magazines are suffering from declining circulation. Free information magazines are increasing in popularity.

Newspapers in Japan

It was in 1868 that newspapers covering domestic news appeared in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagasaki, though not on a daily basis. Then, in 1871, the first daily newspaper, the Yokohama mainichi shimbun, was launched. Others followed in rapid succession. Most of today’s major daily newspapers have a history going back to the 1870s. At first, newspapers were sold on consignment in bookstores, but the practice of home delivery, a system started by the Hochi shimbun in 1903, soon followed. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

“Today’s newspapers are central members of huge media conglomerates, often affiliated with television networks, professional sports teams, and other businesses. In 2010, the average household subscribed to 0.92 newspapers. Major general newspapers usually put out both morning and evening editions (excepts), with more than 90 percent of these newspapers being delivered directly to homes. In addition to the general newspapers, there are sports newspapers, political party newspapers, tabloids, industry-specific trade newspapers, and leisure-oriented newspapers. [Ibid]

“In 2010, 95 percent of newspapers were delivered directly to homes and offices from 19,261 delivery agents with 391,832 employees throughout the country. By contrast, newsstand sales accounted for less than 5 percent of total sales. Another system peculiar to Japan, the appointing of exclusive dealerships that act both as distribution agents and subscription salesmen, became widespread after 1930 and remains in effect today. These systems sustain the high circulation of newspapers in Japan. [Ibid]

“With the increasing use of the Internet and cell phones, the number of newspaper subscribers is decreasing, especially among young people. The population of Japan is also on a downward trend, which has likewise contributed to a decline in newspaper sales. There has also been a decrease in the number of newspaper advertisements, which has forced the newspaper industry to transform its style of business. [Ibid]

Major Newspapers in Japan

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The five largest daily general papers are circulated in local editions nationwide and account for more than 50 percent of all newspapers sold. In the order of their circulation, they are Yomiuri shimbun, Asahi shimbun, Mainichi shimbun, Nihon keizai shimbun, and Sankei shimbun. All these organizations maintain overseas bureaus, and several of them now use communications satellites to transfer digital data that is utilized to print daily overseas editions. Many regional cities and towns have their own newspapers to report local news. In addition to the newspaper organizations, two news agencies, Kyodo News Service and Jiji Press, maintain domestic and overseas bureaus and share coverage with foreign wire services. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

The Yomiuru Shimbun has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the world. Founded in 1874, it has a circulation of 10.3 million (or around 14.5 million of you include the afternoon edition). Its main rival, Asahi Shimbun, has a circulation of 8.3 million and a dormitory where 500 reporters spend the night in case there is a fast breaking story.

The Yomiuru Shimbun gets it name from “yomi-uri,” 19th century hawkers who sold one-page newspapers on the streets. These newspapers were essentially tabloids that reported on fires, murders, suicides and gossip and were the first form of mass media in Japan. The Yomiuru Shimbun began as one such newspaper. Today it is a huge company that owns the Yomiuru Giants among other things

In addition to the Yomiuru Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun Japan has three other major dailies with circulation of more than two million; two evening tabloids with circulation more 1.5 million and seven daily national sports newspapers with a circulation of more than 100,000. The sports newspapers are known as much for their topless girls and massage parlor ads as they are for their sports coverage.

Japan has two English-language daily newspapers: The Japan Times, The Daily Yomiuri. International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun stopped publication after a few years. Some foreign newspapers print editions in Japan, and others are air freighted from overseas; they can be found in major hotels and bookstores and at a few of the kiosks at urban railway and subway stations. The Japan Times is ranked with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Thailand's Bangkok Post, Singapore's The Strait Times as the best English-language newspapers in Asia.

Magazines in Japan

A tremendous variety of magazines are published in Japan on a weekly, biweekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Many of the magazines are produced by major newspapers and book publishing houses, others by magazine specialty houses, and still others by independent organizations or special interest groups. Weekly magazines were originally published primarily by newspaper companies, but book publishers began to enter the field in February 1956, with the launching of Weekly shincho. The weeklies enjoy wide circulation and provide an alternative to the more staid reporting of daily newspapers. Their contents run the gamut: everything from political scandals to gossip about media personalities and sensational crime stories. Affectionately referred to as “guerrilla journalism,” they frequently find it necessary to defend their own freedom of the press as guaranteed by the constitution. [Source: Web-Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan]

“While general magazines such as Bungei shunju, Chuo koron, Sekai, and other long-established monthlies maintain a high reputation and are sought out by educated people, fashion magazines aimed at a younger female readership, such as With and More, also enjoy wide circulation. In recent years, magazines have become more focused in their contents, appealing to specific age groups and people with specialized interests, such as collectors, sports enthusiasts, and personal computer users. Reflecting the steady rise in the average age of the population, the number of new magazines targeting middle-aged and elderly people is growing. Japanese editions of foreign magazines are also a part of the market, one example being the Japanese-language version of Newsweek, which has been published since 1986. Going the other way, in recent years a number of Japanese magazines have established overseas editions, primarily targeting young female readers in China and South Korea. [Ibid]

“Comic magazines and books known as manga are very popular among both young people and adults. The market for manga is enormous, accounting for 24.2 percent of total sales and 39 percent of all copies sold in 2010. Spurred by the global popularity of Japanese animation, a growing number of stories featured in Japanese manga are being translated into foreign languages and published abroad. The U.S. monthly comic magazine Shonen Jump runs translated stories from Shonen jampu, a weekly Japanese manga with a circulation of 2.9 million, as of June 2010. [Ibid]

The Japanese edition Playboy magazine was introduced in 1975. Its initial run of 438,000 copies sold out in three hours. An early editor told the Asahi Shimbun, “The level of nudity of the women models as well as sheer physical mass was overwhelming. The impact of the magazine was unlike anything ever published in Japan.” The magazine inspired Japanese imitators like Popeye and went a long to introducing American culture at a time when most Japanese were largely ignorant of American culture. By the 1990s sales of Playboy were declining. By the 2000s it was seen as dated and uncool, with some editions selling only 55,000 copies. The last edition hit the stands in November 2008.

Among the most successful new magazines in the late 2000s were free papers that featured pictures of cute, attractive and beautiful local women. Appearing first in Niigata, these Bishojo Zukan (“Pictorial Books of Local Beauties”) are found in nearly all of Japan’s prefectures. They are so popular they have been dubbed “phantom papers” because they disappear so quickly off the shelves.

Japanese Reporters and Photographers

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Former Yomiuri Shimbun reporter Jake Adelstein told The New Yorker paints two types of Japanese reporters, with the archetypes at war in the newsroom: Troublemakers covering current affairs are working directly at odds with practitioners of what he likes to call “pronouncement” journalism, those who make their careers on the political beat citing press releases and official leaks.

Sometimes media coverage can be overwhelming. The coverage of baseball player Hideki Matsui by the Japanese media was something to behold. He was followed by an army of 80 or so reporters and cameraman who reported on his every move. Sometimes during the evening news sports broadcast it seemed that every pitch that was thrown to him was shown and analyzed and everything that happened to the Yankees or the Major Leagues was discussed in terms of how it related to him.

Most of the reporters who followed Matsui did so as a full time job. Leaving their families behind in Japan, they followed Matsui, almost year round from his first appearances at spring training in January through post season play in October. Their newspapers paid for their $3,000 a month apartments in Manhattan. Many of them were smokers and one of their greatest hardships was the no smoking rules at Yankee stadium. In the American media, they become a story themselves. At height of Matsui’s impressive start they were interviewed almost as much by American reporters and as they interviewed Matsui.

Killed and Kidnapped Japanese Journalists

Several Japanese journalist were killed in Iraq. In May 2003, freelance journalists Shinsuke Hashida and Kotaro Ogawa were killed when gunmen opened fore on their vehicle south of Baghdad. The were on their way to the Japanese camp at Samawah. They were an uncle and nephew team.

In April, 2004 three Japanese civilians---freelance photojournalist Soichiro Koriyama, freelance writer Noriaki Imai and volunteer aid worker Nahoko Takato---were abducted and held in the Falluja area. In a videotape their kidnapers said the three Japanese would be burned alive unless Japan withdrew it troops from Iraq. All three were released unharmed a week or so after the abduction with the help of Sunni clerics. The Japanese government said it didn’t pay any ransom. About the same time they were released two other Japanese---freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda and NGG worker Nobutaka Watanabe---were kidnaped. They were released a couple days later, and were criticized for reading anti-American messages given them by their captors.

In May 2003, Horoki Gomi, a photographer with Mainichi Shimbun killed a security guard at the international airport in Jordan after a bomb he collected as a souvenir in Iraq exploded when he was stopped at a security check. The guard was killed when he opened the Gomi’s carry-on suitcase and the bomb exploded as he picked it up to examine it. Three others were seriously injured. Gomi was convicted of negligence resulting in death and sentenced to 18 months in prison but was pardoned by Jordan’s king and allowed to leave the country due diplomatic efforts by the Japanese government and his newspaper.

One of people killed during the demonstration Myanmar in October 2007 was a Japanese journalist, Kenji Nagai, who was shot at point blank range during protests in Yangon. The picture of him after he was shot won a Pulitzer Prize.

In April 2010, Reuters-employed Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto was killed by a bullet through his chest while shooting violent demonstrations in Bangkok.

In August 2012, the BBC reported: “A Japanese journalist, Mika Yamamoto, has been killed reporting on fighting in Aleppo, Syria, Japan's foreign ministry has confirmed. Ms Yamamoto, 45, was a war correspondent with the Tokyo-based Japan Press news agency. She was with a colleague, who identified her body, when she was killed, a ministry spokesman said. A report by Kyodo news agency described Ms Yamamoto as an award-winning veteran journalist. According to the website of The Japan Press - an agency that produces television news content and documentaries - Ms Yamamoto, who joined Japan Press in 1995, had experience covering war and conflict in both Afghanistan and the Iraq. [Source: BBC, August 22, 2012]

Ms Yamamoto is one of several foreign journalists to have died in Syria since March 2011. Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, an American, and award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik died in Homs in February. The month before, in January, French television journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed in Homs while visiting the city on a government-organised trip. [Ibid]

Image Sources: 1) 2) japan-photo.de japan-photo.de ; 3) JAXA 4) Doug Mann Photman 5) Japan Visitors

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

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© 2009 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated January 2013

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