平成27年6月にはてなダイアリーから引っ越し。岩手県在住の47歳会社員。某マスコミに近いところ勤務。家族:相方&息子 祖国の未来を憂い、特定アジアと国内の反日分子を叩くことに燃えつつ、のほほんと写真を撮ったり映画を観たりするのを趣味とする男の日々。平成26年に突如としてランニングをはじめ、現在ドハマり中



Aso falls victim to media attacks ― Kwan Weng Kin

FEB 20 ― Is Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso just a manga-loving politician who cannot read Chinese characters correctly, or is he one of the few Japanese leaders who speak English and know their economics? If all that most Japanese know about Aso comes only from television, they would probably have a pretty low opinion of their Prime Minister.

For Aso is clearly a victim of Japan's four privately owned television networks, which seem to treat politics no differently from any other form of programming ― namely, the subject must be entertaining, or else.

Japan's sole public broadcaster NHK is the notable exception, its political reports always painstakingly objective to the point of being dreary at times.

But for the four private networks, everything is fair game, from knocking Aso's manga addiction to mocking his daily habit of winding down at members-only bars in five-star hotels.

Such reports, if dished up in small portions now and again to liven up otherwise humdrum political news, probably do little harm.

But they can ruin a politician if they are aimed at belittling him and shown umpteen times throughout the day on news shows that begin as early as 5.30am, with the last of them not ending until well past midnight.

It is telling that the presenters of the more popular of these shows are not news professionals.

Ichiro Furudachi, who hosts the nightly Hodo Station news show, made his mark as a sportscaster for professional wrestling events and is frequently out of his depth when discussing the day's political issues.

Meanwhile, Monta Mino, who presents a three-hour morning news show, holds the Guinness World Record for being the TV host with the most hours of live TV appearances in a week ― 22 hours, 15 seconds ― most of them on variety programmes.

And when Mino and his counterparts at other networks are not making snide remarks or taking potshots at Aso, they are busy coaxing their studio guests to do so.

For the sake of balanced opinion, however, the anchor, or one of his guests, will at some point in the show dutifully rattle off prepared comments in support of Aso.

But otherwise, what often comes over on the TV screen is a concentrated attack on the Prime Minister that takes place simultaneously across all the networks.

Skewed reporting of Aso's stimulus measures to save the Japanese economy has also made him appear to have done little on that front so far.

The measures he compiled are too numerous to be listed on a single A4-sized sheet, let alone discussed in any detail within the limited time of most TV shows.

So the networks have latched on to just one of those measures ― his controversial proposal to give a total of 2 trillion yen (RM78 billion) in cash to all residents.

Siding with the opposition, the networks have generally portrayed the handouts as pork-barrel politics designed to win votes ahead of a general election.

They also said the handouts were really no more than a rebate on income tax, conveniently ignoring the fact that for millions of low-wage earners and pensioners who do not pay such taxes, the 12,000-yen gift per person is really money from heaven.

There has also been a disturbing tendency of late by the networks to rush to conduct opinion polls straight after the breaking of news unfavourable to Aso.

Issues include last week's public tirade by ex-premier Junichiro Koizumi against Aso over postal reforms and this week's resignation of Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa over his unbecoming behaviour at an international press conference recently. As people who are surveyed under such circumstances are apt to remember only the bad news, one can hardly expect Aso's popularity to go up ― only down.

It would of course be naive to assume that the networks have no hidden agendas and that all the slanted reporting is purely the result of television producers' desperation to drive up viewer ratings.
In fact, the key private networks are owned by media companies that have their own national daily paper, and whose political views range from the right, all the way to the left.

The policies of the networks therefore reflect the political ideology of their respective owners and editors.

At times, as was the case during the Koizumi administration, the networks can be cheerleaders for the prime minister to the point of virtually banning all criticism from their shows.

But with Aso, the networks seem unwilling to give him the benefit of the doubt and have joined hands with the anti-Aso opposition in denouncing the Prime Minister at every opportunity.

There is reason to believe that some politically ambitious media moguls and backroom political operators may also be behind the recent surge in anti-Aso reports on the air.

But even when lampooning their politicians, Japanese networks are able to maintain a level of polite decorum.

Not so in the freewheeling media of neighbouring Taiwan or South Korea, where things can get pretty rough.

For instance, although the popular political satire TV show in Taiwan called Party goes easy on Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou due to his staid, squeaky- clean image, it is no-holds-barred exploitation for laughs when it comes to disgraced ex-president Chen Shui-bian.

In Japan, many bloggers have blasted their media for biased reporting against Aso, saying they have played down his strong points while keeping mum about the opposition's weaknesses.

In a piece for the Sankei Shimbun last December, American economist Richard Koo held up Aso as one of the few Japanese prime ministers who understand the problems in the country's economy and whose policies he says are being studied by foreign leaders.

It is therefore “sheer madness” for the Japanese media to want to destroy Aso over such trivial failings as mispronouncing a Chinese character, said Koo, who works for the Nomura Research Institute.

But amid his deepening woes, there appears to be a bright spot for Aso: A survey published yesterday shows that he has the backing of most local chapters of his Liberal Democratic Party to lead it into a general election this year.

According to the poll in the Asahi Shimbun daily, 30 of 47 LDP chapters have pledged support for Aso, although some confessed to doing so reluctantly.

It bears remembering that local party chapters were instrumental in toppling then-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in 2001 when public support for him fell. ― The Straits Times