Saturday, February 20, 2010

Looking for anti corruption advocates? "Don't look at Japanese media" critics say!

The role of the media in Japan in summer election 2009
demonstrated the invaluable work of the journalists.

Invaluable? Says who?

When the DPJ and his leaders Ozawa Ichiro and the prime
minister Hatoyama Yukio challenged the long-standing
dominance of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),
which had held power since 1955, it was also the victory
of the media and in particular of the TV "tarento".

These media celebrities publicized Japan's aging
generation of conservative leaders who were more skilled
at back-room deal making than sorting out the nation out
of her amnesia, somatic disease and addiction to a one
party rule.

The "system" encroached all rooms of power, allied (but
not friend) with the bureaucracy into a regime that
paralyzed the archipelago and drowns the "Japizen" into

One point, still, is not resolved, the combat against
corruption, abuse of power, attempts to take advantage of
position or ranks.

Months ahead will show if Japanese media show
responsibility or play the same old tune of sleeping in
the same bed with old politicians.

I have my idea on this, but let's see what others think
about it and what they wrote.

How to raise awareness

"When corruption and bribery become so institutionalized
in society that people view corruption as the fixed and
incontestable norm. To break down such a system, the
public’s ignorance of their rights, cynicism, fear of
reprisal and mentality of submission to the status quo
must first be defeated. Perhaps most importantly, the
efficacy challenge needs to be addressed, people need to
believe that they can actually do something about
corruption so that they can act on that belief," writes

Corruption? Look the other way!

"The social, economic and political consequences of
corruption have been widely analyzed, and have been the
subject of numerous writings in many developing
countries. However, corruption in both developed and
industrially advanced countries is generally ignored and
insufficiently addressed. While the nature and
consequences of corruption in advanced societies varies
dramatically, there are many similarities when it comes
to the impact of corruption on democratic institutions.
Japan is one such country worthy of study. Though it is
a highly developed society, corruption and all forms of
bribery are deeply entrenched in Japan's political
culture and bureaucratic functions." " in Japan --
Institutionalizing the Right to Information, Transparency
and the Right to Corruption-Free Governance"

The solution: expose the culprits to public scrutiny

"Media and Politics in Japan. Edited by Susan J. Pharr
and Ellis S. Krauss University of Hawaii Press":

"No country in the industrial world is as media-saturated
as Japan. Its five national dailies -- each with a
circulation of over 2 million -- translate into the
highest per-capita newspaper circulation in the world.
Some 90 per- cent of adults read newspapers daily, and
the average person watches more than three hours of
television a day. Given the rising importance of the
media in all the industrial societies, Japan thus
presents itself as a laboratory for exploring the role
the media play today in democracies...

... Remarkably, despite the widely acknowledged
importance of the topic, relatively few scholars outside
Japan have conducted research on the contemporary
Japanese media's role in politics...

... In industrial societies today, some politicians, no
matter how intelligent their grasp, how astute their
political judgments, or how incisive their issue
positions, cannot be packaged successfully, while others
can. This has led numerous scholars and other observers
to conclude that the media are recasting political
leadership itself, at least in the case of national
political elite. Meanwhile, media-borne scandals --
whether over nannies in America or stashed gold bars in
Japan -- thin the ranks of those who would serve the

As the bureaucracies of the advanced industrial societies
"note, register, inventory, tax, stamp, measure,
enumerate, license, assess, authorize" (to quote the
French anarchist Proudhon) by way of policies that reach
into ever increasing domains of human behavior, the media
become powerful screening devices for vast flows of
information. Only a tiny fraction of the work of the
state in the United States, Japan, or elsewhere becomes
exposed to public scrutiny, and many of the struggles
within bureaucracies and among and between interest
groups represent efforts to capture or deflect media
attention or to turn it to advantage. Not only do
politics and bureaucracy feel the media's presence and
power; so, too, does the public. Despite a vast amount
of research, mystery surrounds the simple act of voting
in a media age: from what confluence of forces and
factors do voters make their decisions on candidates, and
how do the media confound the process?...

How do the media confound the process?

""The Japanese press has never been a particularly active
watchdog," conclude Ellis S. Krauss and Priscilla
Lambert, in "The Press and Reform in Japan," published in
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government scholarly

"None of the scandals of the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s
provide examples of the press initiating and pursuing an
investigation into government misdeeds."" Indeed, the
country's cautious, neutral newspaper culture, it
suggests, may be incapable of leading a crusade against
the society's encrusted uneconomic ways and vested
interests. That's the inescapable conclusion of this
major new study." writes Tom Plate (UCLA) writing about
how non-confrontational Japanese newspapers reinforce a
political culture of caution in "The medium is the

So, from here, where are we? Is it right that "Media
Intimidation in Japan" remains the spear of the regime as
wrote David Mac Neill in "A Close Encounter with Hard
Japanese Nationalism" ?

"Where does hard nationalism end and soft nationalism
begin, and do the high-profile activities of hard
nationalists in Japan have a wider role in helping to
legitimize previously taboo ideas and positions within
society? says Mc Neil. The question of "why censorship
finds such fertile soil in the Japanese broadcasting and
newspaper world" is another enigma of the Japanese
power... "Comfortably wrapped in the notion that
Japanese life is ruled by harmony and consensus, and in
the relative absence, even as an ideal, of the conceptual
freedoms built up over generations in other societies, it
is not difficult to understand why in many instances
compromise comes easiest."

Consensus? Is it the added value attached to conformism
and paralysis? With nowadays few or nearly no foreign
media gatekeepers, except to entertain audiences in
"infotainment" programs? Read the piece of Karel Van
Wolferen down the page*.

Some rather cynical watchers consider the power of
corruption linked to the absence of criticism by Japanese
media (as seen during Koizumi and the role of advertising
like the Dentsu agency) and the islanders who are just
one foot in the grave, the mask glued on the face with no
expression, both oral or physical.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the China sea, a new
Empire is stretching its lead over any regional rival.
But this certainly is an other story...

*On the media, this essay from Karel Van Wolferen:
"The Bureaucracy of American Journalism"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dalai-Lama meets Obama: China roars!

"The 14th Dalai Lama has become a global brand, this is the continuation of the Orientalism by which the western imagination has colonized and marginalized Asia and the Middle East for generations"

Beijing government, celebrating the Chinese New Year holidays of the Tiger and the Spring Festival, roared with anger to the Dalai Lama trip to the United States for a visit today between the Dalai-Lama and US president Obama.

This is not the first time that China has been angered by American support for the Dalai Lama. Beijing was infuriated in 2007 when President George W Bush both received the Dalai Lama at the White House and attended a ceremony at which he was awarded a US Congress gold medal.

But all that glitters is not gold according to China watchers: It is "unwise" for President Barak Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama because the session would negatively affect American ties with China, says Fred Teng an expert on US China relations quoted by the Chinese official agency Xinhua. On the heels of an arms sales to Taiwan and at a time when the US relies heavily on China on a number of thorny geopolitical issues worldwide, Teng, a member of the National Committee on US - China Relations, told Xinhua that "if President Obama now invites the Dalai Lama to visit the White House, he will be instigating a potentially destructive downward spiral in relations."

In an op-ed article published in the Huffington Post yesterday, Teng said that in recent weeks, the US - China relationship have been rocked by a number of geopolitical crises, some unforeseen and others a result of archaic policies that "should no longer exist in our current political climate."

The meeting comes amid tension in US-Sino relations, with disputes simmering over US arms sales to Taiwan, claims of Chinese cyber-spying and trade deals. China, which views the Dalai Lama as a separatist, has warned the meeting will undermine relations. US White House spokesman Robert Gibbs last week defended the decision to receive the Dalai Lama, saying he was "an internationally respected religious leader". Obama avoided meeting the Dalai Lama in Washington last year ahead of his own first state visit to Beijing. Thursday's meeting will take place in the White House Map Room, not the symbolic surroundings of the Oval Office, where Mr Obama normally meets foreign leaders and VIP guests.

Citing the "high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues", China's foreign ministry had urged the US to call off the visit to "avoid any more damage to Sino-US relations". The White House meeting comes soon after China expressed strong displeasure at the sale of $6.4bn worth of US weapons to Taiwan. Another source of tension initiated by Washington is internet censorship, following claims by the search giant Google that it had suffered a "sophisticated and targeted" cyber attack from inside China. Obama has also given signs of getting tougher on the long-standing dispute over China's currency, which some traders feel is kept artificially weak.

About this visit as reported by the media in China, a few quotes:

"Obama is sending a wrong message"
by Zhu Yuan ( 2010-02-12)

The White House said on Thursday that President Barack
Obama would meet the Dalai Lama on February 18, despite
China's repeated warnings that such talks would hurt
ties. Click for news

What would the US government feel and react if Chinese
leaders meet someone who has been carrying out activities
for the independence of one of its state, say Alaska?

Putting oneself in other people's shoes is what we
Chinese always do when having the impulse to point our
fingers at others or do something that will get on other
people's nerves. If Obama put himself in Chinese people's
shoes, he would not meet Dalai Lama. He insisted on
meeting Dalai Lama despite China's strong opposition
because he gauges the question of Tibet and the Dalai
Lama with a different yardstick.

With the Cold War mentality in his sub-conscientiousness,
he can hardly shake off the obsession that China is a
Communist state and is an enemy of the United States when
it comes to ideology. As a result, he has turned a blind
eye to the fact that Tibet has been part of China for
hundreds of years and the history of Tibet as part of
China is much longer than the history of the United

If Dalai Lama has any reason to claim sovereignty for
Tibet as an independent country, the Indian tribes have
far more reasons to drive most of the Americans out of
the United States.

Obama has also turned a blind eye to the fact that peace
and religion are a cover Dalai Lama uses for covert
activities for his attempt to split Tibet from China. The
Chinese government has said, for many times, that the
door for negotiation is always open to Dalai Lama as long
as he gives up his attempt to split Tibet from the

By meeting Dalai Lama, Obama is sending a message to
those separatists that they have the support of the
world's only superpower for their illegal activities. By
meeting this man who does not mean what he says, Obama is
doing something detrimental to the Sino-US relations and
has showed disrespect for the Chinese people. By doing
so, he is portraying himself as a man of double standards
and of no principle in Chinese people's eyes. By doing
so, he is giving the impression that he told lies or at
least did not speak from the bottom of his heart when
promising to promote Sino-US relations.

Government views? Not only, but they seldom pass the great wall of our western media according to "Many young Chinese people cannot forgive certain western media and NGO's because they made subjectively edited and partial interpretations about the truth of the riots in Lhasa and other areas where Tibetans congregate as well as the rich and complex relationship between the Han and Tibetan peoples... Today, we are expressing the national interests of China and the dignity of the Chinese in a firm and powerful manner. We also need to cultivate and maintain a cultural mentality that includes and tolerates diversity."
More on Chinese perspectives

One of the most controversial argument is in the relation the Dalai Lama had with Mao Zedong when the DL visited Beijing after China Tibet forced normalization and thanked Mao for his explanations on modernity. An issue dismissed by Tibetans authorities explaining that at that time the DL was a young and inexperienced man compared to the Chinese leader. An other argument is about the resistance (CIA helped) and the orchestration of the Dalai Lama escape to India though the Himalaya mountains. Here is an article of Vancouver based, quotes:

"Dalai Lama's Links to CIA Still Stir Debate"
By George Fetherling

Two sorts of people were offended by Oliver Stone's film
JFK . American patriots were outraged at the suggestion
by Stone's main character that Lyndon Johnson was
complicit in John F. Kennedy's murder. The others, deeply
involved in North America's fast-growing spirituality
industry, gasped with disbelief when the unnamed U.S.
intelligence veteran played by Donald Sutherland,
reminiscing about the old days of the CIA, said, "Tibet
'59, we got the Dalai Lama out--we were good, very good."

Followers of the 14th Dalai Lama, including such Buddhist
theologians as Richard Gere and Harrison Ford, have often
tried to ignore the long-time links between their exiled
leader and the CIA. Doing so credibly, however, becomes
harder each year.

When the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet in
1950, it found Tibet much as it always had been: an
unforgiving and feudal society where there were still
warlords and even slaves. The Dalai Lama, who visits
Vancouver April 18 to 20 ,
lived as the monarch in his 1,000-room palace in Lhasa
without interference from the new occupiers of his
country, which had often been invaded in earlier times
and just as often had invaded others. But some of his
subjects did rise up, unsuccessfully and with CIA help.
Rebelliousness grew until 1959, when the Dalai Lama
himself joined in a more general revolt. It failed. He
fled across the border into India.

Probably the first public revelation about supposed CIA
help in the flight itself came in 1961 with the
publication of Tibet Is My Country : The Autobiography of
Thubten Jigme Norbu, Brother of the Dalai Lama . But the
phrasing in this as-told-to book, translated from Tibetan
to English via German, was ambiguous. Many were left to
argue whether the springing of the Dalai Lama was
actually a CIA covert op or if, as the CIA claimed, its
people became aware of the escape only when it was
already under way--though by then they long had American
operatives at work inside Tibet.

In his 1995 The Very Best Men , Evan Thomas, Newsweek 's
expert on the intelligence community, described the Dalai
Lama and a CIA operative "racing down the runway of a
remote mountain strip, a step ahead of the blazing guns"
of the Chinese army. But in Orphans of the Cold War
(1999), John Kenneth Knaus, one of the CIA's point men in
Tibet, said CIA help was limited to radio contact (as
shown in Martin Scorsese's 1997 film Kundun ). That
version was echoed in The Dragon in the Land of Snows by
Tsering Shakya (also 1999). Many arguments still turn on
this point. What's become a lot less debatable is what
the Dalai Lama and the CIA did next--together.

In the early 1960s, the CIA moved from dropping its own
agents into Tibet to training a brigade of 2,000 Tibetan
exiles, using secret bases in the Colorado Rockies and
elsewhere. The band was supposed to invade occupied Tibet
from Nepal. The Dalai Lama admitted as much in his 1990
autobiography Freedom in Exile , which sold one million
copies and was the first of his many lucrative
bestsellers (two in the past two years alone).

But apparently the guerrilla army never did more than
engage in border skirmishing. As early as 1964, in fact,
its effectiveness and efficiency were called into
question by the CIA, which nevertheless stuck with the
plan. Funds to pay this army were funnelled through the
Dalai Lama and his organization, which received US$1.7
million a year, later reduced to $1.2 million. (Of this,
the Dalai Lama himself was paid $186,000 a year. But no
one has ever suggested that he pocketed it. The money was
used to operate his exiled government's offices in Geneva
and New York.) The last year in which the stipend was
paid out was 1974. By then, of course, U.S. policy had
changed to one of embracing China, not antagonizing it.

Much of this information became public in 1997 in the
far-right Chicago Tribune , of all places, confirming
what Maoists had been charging for decades. In 1998 both
the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times added
further details, using newly declassified agency

Now the debate may be shifting. One former CIA agent
named Ralph McGehee, admittedly a professional thorn in
the side of his former employer, alleges that the CIA has
been a prime funder of the Dalai Lama's media profile as
a symbol of meditative peace and Buddhist mindfulness.
But the North American image of a spiritually pure
Tibet--the Shangri-la idea that's been building ever
since Lost Horizon , the 1933 novel by James Hilton, who
got the idea from photos in National Geographic --can
also be viewed in other terms. "It can be seen as a
continuation of the Orientalism by which the western
imagination has colonized and marginalized Asia and the
Middle East for generations."
End of quotes

(Sources: BBC, Xinhua, Washington Times, China Daily,, EU Digest, EastSouthWest, Reporter's notes)