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Media and Politics in Japan

Susan J. & Ellis S. KraussPharr

Publication Year: 1996

Japan is one of the most media-saturated societies in the world. The circulations of its "big five" national newspapers dwarf those of any major American newspaper. Its public service broadcasting agency, NHK, is second only to the BBC in size. And it has a full range of commercial television stations, high-brow and low-brow magazines, and a large anti-mainstream media and mini-media. Japanese elites rate the mass media as the most influential group in Japanese society. But what role do they play in political life? Whose interests do the media serve? Are the media mainly servants of the state, or are they watchdogs on behalf of the public? And what effects do the media have on the political beliefs and behavior of ordinary Japanese people? These questions are the focus of this collection of essays by leading political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, and journalists. Japan's unique kisha (press) club system, its powerful media business organizations, the uses of the media by Japan's wily bureaucrats, and the role of the media in everything from political scandals to shaping public opinion, are among the many subjects of this insightful and provocative book.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi

...ture that has a long history. The project from which it grew was sparked by a discussion of the Joint Committee on Japanese Studies (JCJS) of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in the early 1980s. Reflecting on what key areas of research had been neglected in the social science lit-...

PART I. The Mass Media and Japan

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Introduction: Media and Politics in Japan: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

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pp. 3-18

...importance for understanding the present and the future of industrial democracies as those that concern the role of the media in society and politics. At the U.S. political conventions in the summer of 1992, media representatives far out numbered the presumed “real” players, the delegates. Lingering television images of town halls, memories of...

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1. Media as Trickster in Japan: A Comparative Perspective

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pp. 19-44

...as to its role and its effects on politics than the media. Numerous books on modern political systems make no more than passing reference to the media, listing the major daily newspapers and their circulations, per-capita television viewing time, and so on, and then moving on to consider the “real” institutions of government and the...

PART II. Media Organizations and Behavior

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2. Mass Media as Business Organizations: A U.S.-Japanese Comparison

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pp. 47-88

...firms in highly industrialized societies,1 and the business side of the media is a continuing focus of research, regulatory scrutiny, and media attention. Changes in the strategies or performance of mass media firms, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and start-ups, management difficulties and labor problems in media industries are...

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3. Portraying the State: NHK Television News and Politics

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pp. 89-130

...government and politics for the average citizen, and thus it has become the major creator of images of what the state is like, how it operates, and how it relates to society. This chapter analyzes how Japan’s major television channel, NHK (Nihon Hòsò Kyòkai, theJapan Broadcasting Corporation), has portrayed the state in its main...

PART III: The Role of the Media in Politics and Policy

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4. Japan’s Press and the Politics of Scandal

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pp. 133-164

...racy like Japan, none is more essential than that of “watchdog,” ferreting out and exposing the wrong doing and incompetence of those makes them appear wise, efficient, and good, and to hide whatever will arouse anger, shame, or ridicule and thus decrease support for the regime and its incumbents. Indeed, government officials often...

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5. Television and Political Turmoil: Japan’s Summer of 1993

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pp. 165-186

...their television sets to witness an unprecedented political showdown. The conflict—which took place within the stately chambers of the national parliament building and was broadcast on live television—pitted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the conservative party that had dominated Japanese politics for nearly four decades,...

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6. Media and Policy Change in Japan

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pp. 187-212

...“fourth branch of government,” on a par with the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Japanese mass media have similarly been called the “fourth authority” (daiyon no kenryoku), ranked along with the familiar power triumvirate of sei-kan-zai, or the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the bureaucracy, and big busi-...

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7. Media and Political Protest: The Bullet Train Movements

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pp. 213-242

...resource and a devastating enemy. As Todd Gitlin has noted, “people find themselves relying on the media for concepts, for images of their heroes, for guiding information, for emotional charges, for recognition of public values, for symbols in general, even for language.”1 A sixty-second spot on the evening news gives movement leaders access...

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8. Media Coverage of U.S.–Japanese Relations

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pp. 243-274

Until recently one of the important factors in the U.S.– Japanese relationship received little attention: the role of the mass media. Are the media merely the “messenger,” objectively reporting events that take place without making an independent contribution to the relationship? Or do the mass media make major independent...

PART IV: Media and the Public

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9. Media Exposure and the Quality of Political Participation in Japan

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pp. 277-312

...tury has profoundly altered our world. It has expanded our horizon sand changed the very nature of mass electorates, particularly in the media-intensive advanced industrial democracies. In particular, the mass media have helped to make possible the process of cognitive become sufficiently informed about and interested in policy and pol-...

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10. Media in Electoral Campaigning in Japan and the United States

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pp. 313-338

...culture in the 1990s has thrown into question a vast body of descriptive and theoretical work in the areas of voting and mass communications dating back to the 1950s. Much of that work maintained that the key determinants of voting behavior were political party loyalty and the candidate’s image. Issues were thought to be secondary, and...

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11. Media Agenda Setting in a Local Election: The Japanese Case

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pp. 339-352

The news and other mass media are said to serve as “gatekeepers” for information in society. The assumption is that by selecting and emphasizing issues or topics, the media ensure that the public will come to regard them as important or worthy of attention. Simply put, the media can set the public agenda and determine what...

PART V: Media and Politics

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12. The Mass Media and Japanese Politics: Effects and Consequences

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pp. 355-372

...racy? As in all less-than-ideal democracies—which is to say, all existing ones—the question may be better phrased as, To what extent do the media play a democratic role, and how, and to what extent do they not, and why? The stereotype of Japan views it as a coherent, consensual society with a powerful state, ruled by a single party for...


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pp. 373-390


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pp. 375

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863555
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824816988

Publication Year: 1996