Press freedom

Japan: Hey. What are you doing?

Me: Just reading the news.

Japan: Anything interesting?

Me: Nah. Same shit, different day.

Japan: Yeah?

Me: Yeah. Although, there was one story I read recently. It said that there has been a huge drop in the amount of your press freedom.

Japan: Ah, yeah, that.

Me: Apparently you now rank seventy second out of 180 countries. Six years ago you ranked 11th. What happened?

Japan: Well, it seems that my current government has not exactly been staying away from, interfering and pressuring media outlets. Politicians have advocated punishing news outlets that have critical views of the government. Television presenters who have spoken out about the government have been removed from their jobs. Journalists have reported that they have been marginalised or silenced following pressure from politicians.

Me: So the political administration wants to keep people uninformed?

Japan: Well, I think that’s what most governments want. If the media reports the facts about something, governments are very unhappy if they don’t match their narrative, policies and aims.

Me: But for your lawmakers and officials to be so open about this is not good. It feels like something dictatorial governments do.

Japan: Right, yeah.

Me: So, how do your people feel about it?

Japan: Good question. I’m not sure if people know a lot about it because the government isn’t keen on the idea of everybody knowing everything. I mean, it’s not so dissimilar to other countries it’s just at the moment it seems more covert and dishonest.

Me: I really don’t like this.

Japan: Look, it’s nothing new. Governments all over the world are pretty good at getting in the way of the truth. Recently, after the earthquake in Kyushu the NHK Chairman and friend of the government, Katsuto Momii, gave instructions that the public broadcaster should only give the official government line when reporting on the nuclear reactor situation in Kyushu.

Me: Why?

Japan: To make sure that the government’s version of events get lots of airtime.

Me: And, therefore, not the whole truth.

Japan: Yeah, whatever that is.

Me: Hmm. So what are we going to do?

Japan: Well, i don’t know. There’s not an easy solution. The historical precedent for when people are generally helpless against the government controlling the direction of a country through its media isn’t a fun one.

Me: But this is just so amazingly shit. I like you. You’re a well made, amusing, interesting, bizarre, cultured nation and your leaders are actively screwing over its own media and people. This is not making the world a better place.

Japan: True.

Me: So where does this go next? News outlets being more forcefully censored? More dodging of the truth? And where does that lead?

Japan: Erm, well, if you factor in the new state secrets act, the potentially dangerous change in the interpretation of the constitution and the increase in military spending along with the perceived aggression of the USA, China and North Korea, well, in a worst case scenario…

Me: War, what is it good for?

Japan: Absolutely nothing.

Me: What a fantastic group of arseholes your government seems to be.

 

<THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS>

 

 

 

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May 27, 2016. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.