Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Disappearing Prime Minister and other magic tricks of censorship

This article on the sad state-of-affairs in education and thought in the mainstream American culture reminded me that I really need to write about Japan's (in)famous Disappearing Prime Minister, as America is on the fast-track to this same type of information censorship.

I had often made the joke that Japan has been going through a Prime Minister a year for the past 8 years. Although the truth of it is some don't even last one full year in office. (Not unlike the coming and going to the tides.)
Recently, however, I discovered that not only do they change, sometimes they completely DISAPPEAR !

Japan has a long history of censorship and denial. (Ask any Korean and Chinese national about the 50+ year-old Textbook Wars.)
Now, just recently, I found myself having to explain the difference in corruption between Japanese and American governments.  In America, the culture is one of avoidance of responsibility. In Japan, the culture is of acceptance of responsibility. Why, that makes the Japanese government sound downright chivalrous by comparison!

But there can be no sun without shade.

America is denydenydeny and never, EVER accept responsibility because you will be crucified - often way out of proportion and inappropriately - if you even give an inch.
Japan is suppress and censor, going even so far as to mob-bully into general agreement because someone WILL have to accept responsibility if the truth gets out. (There is a very thin line between group mentality and gang mentality as evidenced from my experience with animal rescue after 3/11. *LINK TO FUTURE ARTICLE*)

So we have established that both governments stink from their own particular stench.This, interestingly this also relates directly to the Disappearing Prime Minister Incident.

As was my want, when not living in Japan, I used to follow the current events every day very closely. In particular, TBS had a nice one-click online news service.

Original date of July 19, 2011 TBS carried a clip showing the then current Prime Minister making a statement about how they should have enough energy to get through the summer and the winter if they keep with their current energy saving methods.
And the winter.
The first time I ever heard anyone mention any possibility about winter energy "issues".

I knew there would be energy shortages back in April.
The Japanese government finally addressed the issue of "summer energy shortages" in June.
Now in July, there is , for all intents and purposes, a first mention of winter energy shortages??

Admittedly I had evac'd out of Japan already when I saw this, but there was only a 20 day interval of me having on-the-ground-access to information and being limited to online-only-access to information. Given the history of slow reaction and release of information by the Japanese government with this recent disaster, I wouldn't consider 20 days a major interval for sudden discovery of new information.

As it would turn out I fortunately posted a link to this video. I truly regret not downloading it because when I went to watch it again on the 20th, a mere day later... Not only was the video REMOVED, it was REPLACED by a whole OTHER clip!
Considerably shorter and completely lacking any video or statement by the Prime Minister.

Now, that is some well thought out censorship.
If you merely remove the "offending" material, that might cause interest or unwelcome questions.
If you REPLACE the video with an edited version.... Well, then you must have imagined seeing and hearing the PM because here is the video and there's nothing like that there.

(Incidentally, no other videos from that day had been removed. Only the one with the PM making a statement about summer and winter energy issues. I actually had to do a site-wide search to find the "replacement" video of the original offending video clip.)

Although, the TBS Disappearing PM Incident was certainly unexpected and quite a shock for me, this wasn't to be my only experience with the quick-hand of Japanese censorship.

Yomiuri Shinbun - previously my favorite online newspaper out of Japan - decided to remove an article from July 5th about a rather large southern earthquake.

The forthcoming Nankai M8+ quake is briefly discussed here. In even shorter terms, southern Japan is predicted to experience another quake like 3/11 in less than 30 years.

After the TBS Disappearing PM Incident, I went back and started looking through other articles I had shared. The Yomiuri article above?
Not even in a site-wide search did something similar come up. However, one benefit of the current vanillazation of the news media is that your chances of finding a similar article elsewhere is pretty good.

And this time chance was on my side.
MSN carried an article about the exact same earthquake in southern Japan and how it was NOT related to the upcoming Nankai M8+ quake.

(click pic to enlarge)

You would think they would want people to know this, that it was NOT related.
However, any talk of the upcoming Nankai megaquake has gone by the wayside now as the Japanese government wants, needs the whole world believing that "Japan is safe and open for business." (PATA)

It goes without saying I don't bother to pay much attention to what goes on over there anymore. At least not through official media sources. As I mentioned to another friend recently on the topic of censorship in history - People live the history, media makes money off of it. You want to know what is really going on, listen to what the people are saying.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

Thanks again for stopping into my little corner of the 'net, and Happy Browsing!!

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