Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Hironobu Ishikawa

【#409】Japanese Media Helping Trivialization of Politics

Hironobu Ishikawa / 2016.12.01 (Thu)

November 28, 2016

     On November 23, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals held a symposium titled “Trump Administration and Japan’s decision” in Tokyo, with JINF President Yoshiko Sakurai serving as moderator. Panelists included Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda, Daiwa Institute of Research Deputy Chairman Yusuke Kawamura and JINF Vice President Tadae Takubo.
     The symposium came as a part of annual meeting of JINF members, attracting more than 800 audience including JINF members. Many of them gave nods to the panelists’ specialist knowledge while taking memos. Nevertheless, Japanese media only took up the deputy cabinet secretary’s remark describing parliamentary actions of the Democratic Party and other opposition groups as a rural professional wrestling game, producing a gaffe scandal.

Parliamentary actions represent a rural professional wrestling game
     Republican candidate Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election in a manner to beat dominant predictions, sending a shock wave not only within the United States but also throughout the world including Japan. The panelists gave their respective professional views on the waves of populism in the United States and Europe, future national security problems and Japan’s independence, the fate of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and other topics.
     In conjunction with parliamentary deliberations on the TPP and other issues, Hagiuda said: “There is no forcible passage of bills in this world. There are simply people who forcibly sabotage a vote on some bill… Such actions represent a rural professional wrestling game or a farce in which a wrestler bouncing back from a rope is fallen once with a karate chop. We should change this kind of politics.”
     All major Japanese media organizations including Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Nikkei and Sankei newspapers, Kyodo News, Jiji Press, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), TV Asahi and Fuji Television reported only this part of Hagiuda’s remarks, angering the Democratic Party and other opposition groups. Concerned about the adverse impact of the remark on parliamentary proceedings, Hagiuda accepted an opposition demand for the withdrawal of the remark.

Media should make reports from broader perspectives
     Hagiuda did nothing more than saying a truth. This is the reason why he got applause from audience. Nevertheless, Hagiuda withdrew the remark in a stopgap manner, allowing the opposition camp to gain momentum. Last month, remarks by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yuji Yamamoto affected parliamentary deliberations on the TPP agreement. Eventually, opposition parties failed to submit any counterproposal, shying away from full-fledged policy debate. Media are adding fuel to low-level confrontation between ruling and opposition parties.
     TV morning shows reflect political reports centering on gaffes, misconducts and politicians’ personal relations, leading impromptu pundits to make political comments similar to gossip session remarks on scandals involving TV talents. Media should try to make reports and comments focusing on how Japan should take leadership while China expands with the United States and Europe looking inward.

Hironobu Ishikawa is Director and Planning Committee Member, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.