Tokyo targets ‘bias’ in Chinese state-run media

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 11:47pm

Tokyo is to carry out a "long overdue" survey of what it calls anti-Japanese propaganda in China's state-run media.

The government study is part of the effort to find ways to counter Beijing's position on a number of bilateral issues being accepted as fact by international media outlets, governments and the public in other countries.

The government has to be very careful about the message that Japanese media send overseas, particularly to the United States and western Europe

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is concerned that the rest of the world is being exposed to news about Japan that is heavily influenced by the Communist Party, particularly as state media is being made available cheaply to countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and the Middle East.

With coverage of events by Xinhua and China Central Television costing much less than other outlets - such as Reuters, the BBC or Bloomberg - Tokyo fears that an anti-Japanese news agenda is being promoted around the world.

At a recent meeting at the foreign ministry in Tokyo, ambassadors to nations in Southeast Asia were instructed to pay closer attention to the output of Chinese media, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

"It's China's strategy for securing a means to spread its own views to other countries," a spokesman for the ministry said. "This tactic may have been made possible by money from the Chinese government."

Japan has to respond to the situation, analysts here believe, but Tokyo must be wary of falling into the trap that its own messages are seen as propaganda.

"I think this examination of the story that is being told by the Chinese is long overdue," said Jun Okumura, a visiting scholar at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs.

"There has been an almost continuous barrage of Chinese and, to a lesser extent, South Korean views on issues that have generated headlines - and Japan has been reactive, defensive and hence ineffective in countering that. The authorities need to put together a strategy that responds and acts more proactively than it has done to date."

But critics say accusations of bias could be levelled against Japan's media outlets.

Senior managers at NHK, Japan's state broadcaster, came under fire after Katsuto Momii, the president appointed by Abe in February, questioned the role of the Japanese military in the forced conscription of "comfort women". And board members have also been criticised for comments that reflect their conservative opinions.

"The government has to be very careful about the message that Japanese media send overseas, particularly to the United States and western Europe," said Okumura.

Japanese website details rising trend of Chinese intrusions into its airspace

Japan's Ministry of Defence has launched a new English-language section on its website that details intrusions by Chinese aircraft into airspace around the disputed Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and refers to as the Diaoyus.

The web page details the number of times that interceptors from Japan's Air Self-Defence Forces have been scrambled to meet Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace or entering it.

The figures show a gradual increase from around 25 incidents in 2008 to more than 300 confrontations in fiscal 2012. The total figure of 306 scrambles in 2012 was almost double the number in the previous year.

"In recent years, China has rapidly intensified its activities surrounding Japan's airspace, expanded its operational areas and diversified its flight patterns," the website states.

The site goes on to detail recent intrusions into Japanese airspace by a number of aircraft, as well as a drone thought to be Chinese.