An Open Source Center Survey of Japanese Media

08.31.09 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“Japan is a media-saturated nation where the level of consumption of both newspapers and television is extremely high by global standards,” according to a new assessment from the DNI Open Source Center (OSC).  “Furthermore, the news media have the deep trust of the people…. More Japanese adults trust journalism than trust any other institution [including] schools, the police, or religious institutions.”

The 67-page OSC report (pdf) describes the peculiar Japanese media landscape, with profiles of major media categories as well as individual news organizations. It also presents numerous curious observations regarding Japanese production and consumption of news and information.  For example:

“Surveys report that over half of adults in Japan read news content on their cell phones.”

Many posters on online Japanese bulletin boards “use nonstandard Japanese, making their comments difficult to read for the uninitiated.  For example, Chinese characters are often intentionally misused, and keyboard symbols and other special characters are put together to form nonstandard ‘compounds’ that make sense only to insiders.”

“A stable group of prominent bloggers who consistently help shape mainstream dialogue on key issues of policy has yet to emerge in Japan.”  In 2007, however, Japanese was the world’s top blogging language, accounting for 37% of all blog entries posted on the Internet.

“Weekly magazines are notorious in Japan for their loose editorial standards, airing rumor, half-truths, and outright falsehoods with little vetting of the information.”

“Compared to three decades ago, there are many more opinion magazines that express right-wing views about history and security…. This fact tends to amplify right-wing voices beyond their actual influence and crowd out countervailing opinions from the political center and left.”

The OSC report on Japanese media has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.  See “Japan — Media Environment Open; State Looms Large,” Open Source Center, August 18, 2009.