Tagged: TV

Who Owns Japan’s Media?

The U.S media is often criticized for ignoring major news stories or covering them with obvious bias, and more people are becoming aware that this is because the media is owned by just five major corporations – General Electric, Time Warner, Viacom, The Walt Disney Co. and News Corporation.

The media is an incredibly powerful tool for social control, so I’ve been wondering if a similar situation exists in Japan…

On November 12th 2004, The Japan Times reported that the Yomiuri Shimbun group had a stake in 42 media firms…

The Yomiuri Shimbun Group Honsha admitted Thursday that it effectively owns stocks in 42 media organizations under the names of third parties.

Yomiuri said its shareholdings in 12 of the 42 firms violate the limits set by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The 42 firms include 24 local television broadcasters and 18 local radio stations, said the holding company of Japan’s largest newspaper.

The owner of Yomiuri Shimbun is the 82-year-old businessman, Tsuneo Watanabe, who Wikipedia describes as having “great influence on Japanese sports and Japanese politics”.

That Wikipedia article links to two articles with highly promising titles:

Shadow Shogun Steps Into Light, to Change Japan, from the New York Times, 2006, and The Most Powerful Publisher You’ve Never Heard of, from The Economist, 2007.

The first article includes some interesting quotes that go some way to answering the question, who owns Japan’s media?

He has recently granted long, soul-baring interviews in which he has questioned the rising nationalism he has cultivated so assiduously in the pages of his newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri — the world’s largest, with a circulation of 14 million.

So he used his newspaper to cultivate nationalism. That’s quite an admission.

Indeed, the paper was a main force in pushing for the more muscular nationalism now emerging in Japan. Shortly after becoming editor in chief in 1991, Mr. Watanabe set up a committee to revise the American-imposed pacifist Constitution. If MacArthur’s Constitution emasculated Japan by forbidding it to have a real military, Mr. Watanabe’s Constitution, published in 1994, restored its manhood.

A media mogul with the power to rewrite the constitution? How did he manage that?

Mr. Watanabe joined The Yomiuri newspaper in 1950 and made his mark as a political reporter. Political reporters in Japan tend to succeed by becoming close to a particular politician. …Mr. Watanabe ingratiated himself so much with one Liberal Democratic heavyweight, Banboku Ohno, he became the gatekeeper at his house. Politicians seeking favors from Mr. Ohno would ask Mr. Watanabe to put in a good word. One young politician helped by Mr. Watanabe was Yasuhiro Nakasone, the future prime minister. They remain close.

Such was Mr. Watanabe’s power that by the 1980’s, he helped broker major political deals.

The Economist article gives us an even closer insight into Tsuneo Watanabe’s political influence. For example, it describes how Mr. Watanabe mediated opposition party leader Mr. Ozawa’s first contact with Mr Fukuda about forming a grand coalition last November. It also says that after former prime minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden resignation, “Mr Watanabe convened the crucial meeting of party kingmakers where Mr Fukuda was persuaded to run for the LDP presidency.”

Mr Watanabe is more powerful than almost any government minister in Japan could ever hope to be. Privately, Yomiuri journalists tell you that they have no choice but to follow the editorial line Mr Watanabe lays down. They are nowhere near as forthcoming to their readers.

Not only have the Yomiuri’s readers been kept in the dark about these events, so largely have those of the paper’s four national rivals. All that has appeared so far is just two editorials politely questioning Mr Watanabe’s involvement.

It seems Tsuneo Watanabe and the Yomiuri newspaper’s series of attacks on former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, played a large part in his eventual resignation. And after that series was published, Mr. Watanabe was quoted as saying…

I think I can change all of Japan.

Maybe he already has? His newspaper group dominates the media and he’s incredibly powerful in politics. Before you base your opinions on what you read in the paper or see on TV, consider that your opinions might actually be based on Tsuneo Watanabe’s opinions, disguised as facts!

Now, if I can find a connection between Mr. Watanabe and the American media, we’ll have the makings of a global media monopoly!

I Love Commercials Commercial!

Last year a I wrote a series about Japanese manners, each with a video of an AC commercial that broadcast nationwide, teaching Japan’s public to be a little more considerate to each other. I thought those commercials were brilliant, kind of like drink driving commercials back home, but these were about topics as frightening as eating hamburgers on a train.

I Love CM

I’m all for encouraging people to talk to their neighbors, as was done in one of those AC commercials, but this latest “CM” is going a bit too far. Now they are actually encouraging you to watch TV commercials! Watch this video to see what I mean (or jump directly to YouTube).

I have to admit it’s one of my favorite commercials, not least because of its very catchy tune. The question is, though, will an advertising campaign like this work? Will people start to watch the commercials more, and then actually buy the products being advertised?

Of course! When you repeat something enough times, it becomes true, so singing “I love commercials” to yourself all day will subconsciously make you believe you really love commercials. It must work because I’ve been glued to the TV for the last few days. I might have to change the lyrics to “I love changing diapers” or “I love Akihiro Miwa” if I’m going overcome the things I fear most.

Ramsay Ramblings 6/12/2008

Here’s another installment of Ramsay Ramblings so you can keep up with all the exciting happenings in my neck of the woods…

Guns in Japan? Maybe so…

In response to the shocking attack in Akihabara over the weekend, some people were calling for guns to be made legal. I don’t know what the current laws are regarding firearms in Japan, but I was surprised to see this sign at my local lake. I can only assume that some areas do allow gun-hunting, so some people are allowed guns. Just seeing a sign like this gives me the willies. 😕

No Gun Hunting

Pondering the affect of TV-enabled phones

You know how most new Japanese cell phones play regular TV? Well, I was wondering what affect that might have on society when everybody has a TV-enabled phone. Can you imagine riding on a crowded train where every few minutes, half the passengers burst out in simultaneous laughter? What if you are watching TV on your phone and realize half a dozen people are watching over your shoulder? How about if you go out for drinks with a friend, and they suddenly pull out there phone so you can sit at the bar and watch TV together, or worse, make you wait till their favorite show has finished!

I bought my wife a present!

I recently bought Mami a present. This is quite a rare thing, but she does have to put up with me 24 hours a day now so it’s the least I could do. It’s not particularly romantic, but she was thrilled I got her a hedge trimmer. 😀

Taking Rikuto around the lake

It’s amazing how many great places there are in my own town that I haven’t been to before. I saw the above sign at Ogase Ike, a big pond in Kakamigahara, when I took Rikuto for a walk. Here are a couple more pictures.

Rikuto at Ogase Pond

This next one was taken on real grass! Yes, we actually found somewhere soft to kick a ball around when Rikuto gets bigger!

A little park with real grass by the pond.

More Rikuto…

Rikuto tried on his new outfit from a relative. Look he’s Pingu!

Rikuto in a Pingu suit

Here’s a video of Rikuto dragging himself along the floor as he improves his crawling skills. Watch him stand up and avoid being electrocuted!

Uninvited guests

We have a few uninvited guests staying at our place at the moment. I usually wouldn’t put up with a bird’s nest outside the front door because of all the poo, but they seem to keep the strange Japanese bugs away so I’m not complaining too much.

Birds Nest

That wraps up this episode of Ramsay Ramblings, but stay tuned for another one sometime!

NHK English Characters Worse than Nara Mascot?

We were all highly critical of the “freaky looking deer-horned Buddha” mascot that was chosen to represent the Nara Heijo-kyo anniversary, and rightly so, but I fear that even he was more appealing than the two characters that front NHK’s “Eigo de Asobo” children’s TV show.

Meet Kebo and Motch

Let me introduce these ambassadors of the English language…

Kebo and Motch

This picture from the cover of an NHK CD actually shows the two characters in good light. I usually find Kebo on the left, far more frightening than he appears here.

Goodness me! What are those things?

I’m not an expert on children’s shows, and have only recently started watching them regularly while on babysitting duty, but I did find an explanation in English on a post by Japanese blogger gyutaku:

There are two main charactors on this program.

The one is “Kebo” whose name comes from a Japanese word 「毛ぼこり (ball of dust)」.
He looks like a dirty hairy monster for you.
But you will get used to and not mind.
He can speak english appropriately for his age (6 years old).

I’m not so sure I’ll get used to him, but please continue…

The other is “Motch” whose name comes from 「もち (rice cake)」.
He has white smooth skin.
All people will say “How cute it toddling is!”
Because “Motch” is only 3 years old, he speaks only easy and short sentences.

They play together every day.
Motch likes every funny or yummy stuff.

Kebo is good at everything like ガチャピン.
And, he is so gentle that he isn’t angry at Motch’s mischief.

I don’t know what “Gachapin” is, but I found a really bizarre video when searching that word.

Some people like Kebo and Motch, but…

If the original Nara mascot cost over 500 million yen, I can’t help but feel NHK should have splashed a little more cash on these guys. I mean, look at them… a ball of dust and a piece of old rice cake? I blame those of you who don’t pay your TV license fees! Cheapskates! Think of all the poor children who have to suffer Kebo and Motch because you won’t pay your bills!

Now Jenny on the other hand…

Jenny on NHKLittle Rikuto loves Jenny, the native English speaking guest/presenter on the show. Whenever she does her pronunciation practice and we see a close up of her face that fills my 37″ telly, Rikuto, who isn’t even one year old yet, let’s out a little snigger of appreciation and starts drooling. It’s possible he’s trying to practice his English, but I suspect he’s truly happy to see Jenny after watching Kebo and Motch for so long…

TV Viewing Figures vs. IQ Ranking by Country

Since coming to Japan, the amount of time I spend in front of the television has plummeted. I think it’s fair to say that I watch less than two hours of TV a week now. Some of you will find that hard to imagine, but it’s not surprising when everything on TV is in a foreign language.

The internet as an alternative to TV

These days I get my entertainment fix from the internet, and keep informed about the world via the web, too, but there’s a big difference between TV and the internet. For starters, you can choose what to read, and what to believe. Television doesn’t give you that choice, imposing its own version of the news on you.

That means the internet gives you a more well-rounded view of the world, drawn from multiple sources. Also, actively reading a news article on the web gives you a better understanding of the topic than passively digesting information from TV. Of course, you also have the power to research the topic further on the net.

Does TV have a negative effect on IQ?

I managed to track down two charts, one listing countries by TV viewing times, and the other by estimated IQ, and while there’s no perfect correlation to show TV makes you stupid, the results are still interesting.

TV viewing times by country

The U.S leads the way, with TV addiction consuming over 8 hours a day of the average American’s life. Turkey comes next with 5 hours, and those wacky game shows encourage the Japanese to watch close to 4 hours of TV a day.

As for IQ…

IQ rankings by country

South Koreans, who watch just a little over 3 hours of TV a day, are second only to the geniuses of Hong Kong. Japan, a country whose citizens watch half as much TV as Americans, are ranked as the third most intelligent nation. Our friends, the drooling couch potatoes from the U.S., rank a lowly 23rd.

This argument holds no water!

I’m plucking at straws here trying to make a case that television fries your brain, and my argument falls apart when you consider Ireland. The Irish watch just two and a half hours of TV a day, but are only the 36th most intelligent country in the world! All I can assume is that the free time gained from watching less TV is obviously wasted at the pub, rather than swatting up on world issues on the internet.

I am stunned that the average American watches over 8 hours of TV a day. No wonder they are so fat! It makes me wonder how many hours of commercials they are exposed to everyday…. wow…

[poll id=”6″]

Michael McKinlay on TV!

Regular LongCountdown reader, Michael McKinlay, was interviewed by CTV (Canadian TV) recently. I asked him why he was on TV and this was his response:

CTV News called me because my name was listed on the University of Calgary’s Student Union Housing Registry. They asked if they could come over and interview myself as well as my roommate as they were doing a story on student housing in Calgary.

Mike also added:

I had also advertised on E-maple.net, which is a Japanese website. They have a roomshare section and its free to advertise there. I also like having Japanese roommates as they are easy to live with. I lived in Japan for about a year and a half.

Since Mike’s my “Net Buddy 4 Life“, here’s the YouTube video of Mike on CTV News so you can watch it yourself.

Incidentally, his advertisement linked to this post on his blog which shows the rooms in his house. If you look carefully, you’ll see a big poster with my face on it on the wall of the basement! How’s that for a net buddy?! 🙂