Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoshiko Sakurai

【#445】A Challenge against Distorted Media in Okinawa

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2017.06.20 (Tue)

June 19, 2017

     For a long time, Okinawa’s journalism has been distorted by two leading local dailies -- The Ryukyu Shimpo and The Okinawa Times. On April 1, the Yaeyama Nippo expanded into main Okinawa Island where the two leading newspapers that should be described as leaders of biased journalism capture 95% of the newspaper market.
     The Yaeyama Nippo, which has been published on the Yaeyama Islands including Ishigaki Island of Okinawa prefecture, is a conservative newspaper contrasting with the two leaders, using many articles provided by The Sankei Shimbun of mainland Japan. Aiming to achieve 5,000 copies in circulation by the end of this year, the newspaper has already secured more than 2,000 copies.

Two leading newspapers fomenting campaigns against mainland Japan
     “I’m pleased to read the Yaeyama Nippo because I had so far had no choice but to read the two newspapers,” one of Yaeyama Nippo subscribers says, welcoming the new daily positively. “Citizens have gotten aware of distorted Okinawa media,” says Makoto Nakaarashiro, editor-in-chief of the Yaeyama Nippo.
     Ultra-leftists, a minority in Okinawa, have always fomented campaigns against mainland Japan and U.S. military bases. Before Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972, people in mainland Japan were reluctant even to raise the national flag or sing the national anthem. In contrast, Okinawans were waving the Hinomaru national flag and singing the Kimigayo national anthem. Okinawans have been just the opposite of mainlanders.
     When the Okinawa reversion was decided on, the two leading Okinawa newspapers demanded that Okinawa immediately be given the same treatment as mainland Japan without nuclear weapons. The demand was what the Japanese government could not attain then.
     The two leading Okinawa newspapers have long accumulated distorted reports on the Battle in Okinawa, demeaning the defunct Imperial Japanese Forces.
     They have continued to highly publicize minority views opposing and protesting against mainland Japan as if they were Okinawa’s consensus. At present, they emphasize the mainland government’s pressure on and discrimination of Okinawa and exaggerate that Okinawans have begun to wish Okinawa’s independence from Japan.

Disturbances have to be overcome
     “Few people here wish Okinawa’s independence,” says Masako Ganaha in Okinawa’s young generation. “There is no unreasonable pressure or oppression from the mainland government. Threatening human rights and freedom of expression are, in fact, leftists, communist revolutionists and biased media that have lost their place of activities in mainland Japan. Those who emphasize the Japanese government’s oppression at the United Nations and the like and pretend to be victims are, in fact, victimizers.”
     Only the Yaeyama Nippo covers voices of Ms. Ganaha and her associates, while the two leading Okinawa newspapers ignore them.
     The circulation of the Yaeyama Nippo having a different tone from the two leaders has been failing to rise further after exceeding 2,000 copies. Behind the failure are pressures from the two leading Okinawa newspapers, in addition to lack of newspaper deliverers and distribution outlets and absence of obituaries indispensable for local newspapers. For example, The Okinawa Times notified newspaper distributors that they would be banned from delivering the Yaeyama Nippo. As the Japan Fair Trade Commission launched investigations into the notice running counter to the Anti-monopoly Act, the newspaper hurriedly recollected written notices.
     The two leading Okinawa newspapers, while filing a complaint with the international community over the Japanese government’s “unreasonable pressures,” exert illicit pressures on the newcomer newspaper. Undermining Okinawa’s healthy journalism may be the two leading Okinawa newspapers.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.