Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Critical Analysis - Big In Japan

In comparison with western countries, Japanese media serves as a watchdog of the state. A revisionist’s view of this is that Japanese mass media could also be seen as a ‘lapdog’ of the state.

National media in Japanese society is currently dominated by a small number of outlets such as: NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōka) and 5 newspaper groups.

Japanese newspapers emerged in their current format at the end of the 19th century. Before that, news about wars, disasters, the government and everyday gossip was conveyed by one-page tabloids called "kawaraban". These tabloids had a very limited circulation.

The main players within the Japanese press are: Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbum, Sankei Shimbun and Nihan Keizei Shimbun.

Together these newspapers have a combined circulation of over 40 million, in a country which has a population of around 127 million people. This works out as more than 80% of the Japanese population regularly reading a newspaper.

There are currently 121 dailies available in Japan, with 72 currently in circulation.

According to recent figures, Japan’s newspaper readership is the highest in the world with a 99% literacy rate. This therefore means that there is a high consumption of books and magazines within Japan.

Despite this most articles in national papers are submitted anonymously due to Japan’s constitutional laws.

Freedom of the press in Japan is guaranteed by a constitutional law. The Liberal Democratic Party, which was formed in 1955, seeks to co-opt the media by offering media outlets prime office locations in Tokyo at cut back prices.

This is due to the Kisha Club. The Kisha Club is Japanese press club originally set up by The Liberal Democratic Party.

The Kisha Club system is able to limit what information is given to journalists and in return limits what a journalist can write about a particular topic. For example former Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka's controversial business practices were broken by non press club journalists.

The Kisha Club system is currently only small, consisting of around 15 reporters that have exclusive access to its press clubs at certain offices.

Word Count: 346

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