Thursday, February 24, 2011

Japanese TV: FAIL

Stymied by Sports News on CNN, I finally watched some Japanese news coverage. I endured 20 minutes, during which the death toll, or total number of missing was not mentioned once. The whole time, discussion was only of the missing Japanese. Even Amy noticed, and asked why they only care about the Japanese people! They didn't even mention that there are other people trapped in the same building, probably kids from all over the world in the same language class. You get the impression from Japanese TV that only Japanese students were in that building.

And now I read in the news this morning that the Japanese team being sent over are being set to work at that site - somehow I just don't like that. While it's a practical decision on the one hand, as they'll be able to communicate, and it would be nice for any saved person from Japan to be brought out by someone from their own country, I can't help but think it's going to give the impression to Japanese that no-one cared about the Japanese students, and they had to send their own team over to get them out. Especially with the blanket coverage of missing Japanese, and little if any mention of casualties from New Zealand or other countries.

I'm not attacking real Japanese people here, I've had nothing but concern from every person I've met in the last few days who knows I am from New Zealand. Kanji's had dozens of inquiries and the kids were inundated with questions when they went to school. Everyone asks if MY family and friends are okay.

I think I know what's going on at the TV HQ - this is actually the downside of the Japanese worker's ability to put 110% into everything they do. They've been asked to report on the missing Japanese, and by golly that's what they're going to do! The goal is set, the blinkers are on! This means finding out every minute detail about the missing, their names, families, life histories, the school and organizations that arranged their travel. And if it means skipping reports on the actual event, the lives and experiences of non-Japanese humans caught up in this tragedy in exchange for televising blurry, intrusive shots of a relative's hand clutching a passport application, so be it. No-one questions the focus on only Japanese, as this is the 'way it's done'. Another Emperor's New Clothes moment in Japan!

But it has a trickle-down effect too - a Japanese friend just posted on facebook about how awful a tragedy it was, 27 Japanese people missing. Yes, I saw red and commented, but I think I kept it civil, just a reminder that dozens of others from other countries, including New Zealanders of course, were hurt and killed too, not to mention out of house and home, lost all their belongings, their sense of security, and seen their beautiful home city reduced to rubble.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it is a racist thing none of us think too much about. In spite of what we all believe there were many "people" who died there in the earthquake. That one was black or white or Jewish or Gentile or Chinese or Japanese should really not be the determining factor on how many died. I really don't know how something like that should be reported without leaving somebody out.

I hope you can find the time to visit my blog about my experiences in Japan way back when men wore ropes for belts and the women wore baggy pants instead of kimonos. It was a time when you were lucky to have a hibachi in the house and public bath house in walking distance. My Travels in Japan

Rachel said...

It's bothered me for some time now, not just in Japan but when I lived in Australia too, ironically when the Kobe earthquake came and I kept hearing about the one Australian who died, not the thousands of others!

I think the way to do it is to report on the event, with all the numbers, then any info about people from your country gets tacked on to the end, acknowledging that there might be an interest in that, but not presenting it like it's the ONLY item of interest in an event. Other countries did this.

Now I've heard even worse, that they are attacking NZ outright for not being prepared for earthquakes, and acting, as one commenter on a friend's blog said, almost as if we did it deliberately.

I will certainly check out your blog, look out for comments from me! I love love love looking at old photos! Old ladies around here still wear those pants by the way!