Friday, November 10, 2006


North Korea Demonization and Japanese Freedom of the Press

Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Suga has issued an order for the public broadcaster NHK to concentrate more of its short-wave programming on the issue of abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. Needless to say, this raises grave questions about freedom of the press in a democracy, but as luck would have it, Japan — whose big media serve mainly as propaganda organs for the US and Japanese governments — is already at 51st place according to Reporters Without Borders, right down in the sewer with the United States at 53rd place (tied with Botswana!).

But let’s move on to the reason for this egregious undemocratic order. Every country needs an external demon, and as the propellant for their phony “war on terror” the US and Britain have chosen Muslims/Arabs. In Japan the problem is how to change its pacifist constitution to make Japan into a war-making state, and how to transform the Self-Defense Forces into a real military (and keep in mind that Japan’s SDF are already some of the best-equipped military forces in the world). Making these changes requires getting the Japanese people, especially its stubbornly peace-loving activist community, to go along with the program. This is not easy, as citizen resistance to rightist legislation such as the “Conspiracy Bill” is still stiff enough to prevent passage. And getting the populace to agree to changing the Constitution’s Article 9 (which prohibits Japan from having a military force) is a tall order.

Enter North Korea. The Hermit Kingdom has always been an object of suspicion and fear, but over the last few years the abduction issue has been used to show how evil the DPRK is. And now the missile tests and nuclear issue have been used to fuel the flames, resulting in a campaign of hysterical fear mongering. Of course, media stories omit mention of Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, and especially the hundreds of thousands of Koreans abducted by Japan for labor in the 1930s and 1940s.

So, Japan’s leaders are now busy demonizing NK as a means of pumping fear into the Japanese populace, and a means of drumming up foreign support and sympathy for this initiative is propagandizing via short-wave broadcasts.

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