(Mainichi Japan) October 24, 2011
Questioning the way Japanese media report on the Thai flooding

I feel there is something wrong with the way Japanese newspapers and TV networks have been reporting on the flooding in Thailand.

As Japan suffered from its own major disasters only seven months ago, I believe the Japanese media have a lot to report on, such as our interest in the extent of the damage, our concern for the people, how our government is helping Thailand and whether or not it is sufficient.

It's true that there are some Japanese media which have been reporting properly on conditions in Thailand.

But I feel like asking the majority, "Is your self-centered reporting really OK?" and, "Does Japan want to become an economic animal again?" as I see reports focusing only on damage to Japanese companies and its effects on the Japanese economy.

I come across such reports despite the fact that Thailand has suffered serious damage.

According to the Thai government, flooding has left 315 people dead and three missing as of Oct. 18.

The number of people affected has reached 2.5 million.

Twenty-seven provinces have suffered damage and water in the rivers that run from the north to the south is rising, spreading the damage south.

The Gulf of Thailand is bracing for a spring tide at the end of October and caution is still in order.

So what has Japan done?

Emperor Akihito has sent a message of condolences to Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and Japan supplied 55 million yen in emergency supplies such as outboard motors for boats, tents and water filters through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Japan also dispatched experts on Oct. 19 to the flood assessment team of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in response to a request from ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and JICA have sent investigative missions to Thailand to gauge the effects to the Japanese economy and the extent of flood damage, respectively.

It is essential for the Japanese media to report damage to Japanese firms and its effects on the Japanese economy, as well as whether Japanese nationals are among the flood victims.

But they are likely to act in a highly Japan-centric manner unless they make efforts to cover news from a big picture perspective.

If there had been any country that reported only on the March 11 disasters' effects on its companies and economy, how would Japanese nationals in that country have reacted?

In light of massive outpourings of support and assistance from around the world in the aftermath of the March disasters, we should expect calls for support for Thailand.

The Japanese media can stimulate Japanese people's goodwill by reporting on Thailand's dire situation in minute detail.

Thailand is not the only country which has suffered hardship.

Famine triggered by serious drought is spreading in East Africa.

Africa is connected with Japan in various spheres in this era of globalization.

It is necessary for the Japanese media to deliver news of Japan-related issues, but they also have an important role to play to connect Japan with the rest of the world on a more human level.

(By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年10月21日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2011-10-25 06:38 | 英字新聞

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