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  • Christina Theodorakis

What the Japanese Media Refuses to Share

The Tokyo Olympics are, as of now, a go for this year in Japan, despite the first COVID-19 case being found during the torch relay about two weeks ago. Although Japan had a state of emergency declared back in January to mitigate the spread of COVID -- and, to be fair, the total number of cases in Japan pales in comparison to countries like the United States, India, and Brazil -- most people ignored the quasi-state-of-emergency and went about their daily lives. Now, the prime minister has declared yet another state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, and some of the prefectures surrounding Osaka. This is the kind of topic you'll see covered by Japanese news outlets as well as many international news organizations.

There's one topic you'll find that gets covered by international news outlets like the BBC and The Wall Street Journal but will be glossed over on Japanese news: that about 70% of Japanese people now want the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled altogether. This is not a small majority, and yet the Japanese media doesn't want to show that there are any Olympics naysayers in order to keep up the pro-Olympics propaganda for their bottom line.

Japanese people who don't understand English and don't know which international media organizations are reliable continue to be unknowingly misled by their domestic news organizations, who almost never cover both sides of a news story.

It's no secret that Japanese society values collective agreement and action, but for the Japanese media to fail to report what so many international news outlets are covering is a fail for Japan's media establishment and shows why the world doesn't look to Japanese news when they want to read or hear about international news. To see the case in point, look no further than Japan's public broadcaster NHK, their equivalent of the BBC or PBS. NHK's international division refers to themselves as NHK WORLD-JAPAN, showing no intention of being global even in name.

Most Japanese news stories consist of a presentation of the known facts to the viewers or readers without any input from experts, who could provide an introspective analysis or criticism of the topic. This is why Japan is consistently low compared to other developed countries on the World Press Freedom Index, which is measured annually by Reporters Without Borders.

This also applies to news coverage where anyone is suspected of a crime, already being found guilty by the Japanese media and society as soon as they've been placed under arrest.

Since our international team is currently situated in Japan and consists of experts in both Japanese and Western culture, we're here to bridge the knowledge gap between the English-speaking world and Japan. I really like sharing information on Japan with you readers in my blogs, and I'd love to do so for you and your business team as a consulting professional as well. Don't be shy; reach out to us any time for a free consultation at


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