[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No.148 / Mar. 15,2009 ]


Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  
On February 6 a public Conference was held at Yotsuya's (Tokyo) Infant Jesus Convent main hall, organized by the Justice and Peace Commission on the theme: "Authority, Business and Journalism." The speaker, Saito Minako, talked about authority and information, companies' power and self-control of mass media.
Of special interest was the fact that, even in the newspapers' articles there are news that are not rightly reported and there are also other news that cannot find ways to be reported in the Newspapers. The reasons given for that is that there are incidents inconvenient to the holders of power and to companies posting their advertisements in the Newspapers.
Of course, I have heard about that before, but listening to concrete cases was a different matter. I cannot go into details because of the speaker's wishes, but I felt that in spite of the Newspapers' efforts for coverage there has been news unreported, sometimes, in the past as well as now.
In my experience, back in December 15, 2006, the new legislation on Basic Education was passed by the 165 extraordinary session of the Diet and on the 22nd of December was publicly implemented. There was opposition to the new law and many people demonstrated in front of the Diet, thousands held a public rally against, but neither the TV channels reported the opposition, nor Newspapers next day gave any information.
Again, on last February 16 when Hillary Clinton, USA Secretary of State, visited Japan there was a demonstration in front of the American Consulate of Osaka opposing the signing of the Convention to move the American Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Demonstrations also occurred in other places around Japan. The program to move the American marines has to be finished by 2014 and in order to do that Japan must pay an  amount up to US$6,100,000,000. At the same time, there is a plan to move the Futenma American military base to a new site in Henoko (Nago City, Okinawa prefecture). Demonstrations opposing those moves occurred all around Japan, but no articles could be found in the Newspapers those days.
The only news displayed in the Newspapers was the official coming of Hillary to Japan and her visit to Meiji Jingu and to the Japanese Empress, the Convention regarding the move of the American Marines from Okinawa to Guam with the result to strengthen Japanese-American relationship, but no articles displayed any problems originated from the signing of the Convention.
Nevertheless Okinawa's Ryukyu Shinpo placed the following article on its Web site.
The Guam Convention and its Clear Clause Regarding the Building in Okinawa of an American Military Base (Tokyo)"
Last February 13, the news of the signing of the Convention by Hillary Clinton, USA Secretary of State and Nakasone Hirofumi, Japan's foreign minister, to move to Guam the American marines was publicly known. In the preamble, it was stated that progress had been made, not only in transferring the Futenma American air base, but also that both governments expressed strongly, by writing, their wish to have the Futenma air base moved to some other site within the Okinawa province. By including this in the Convention both governments made an appeal to implement strictly the reshuffle of the American military road map. This, in fact, will result in blocking the demands of Nago City and the province to move the air base offshore and to suppress people's public opinion opposing an alternative military facility in Henoko (Nago City).
The Convention consists of 10 articles. The preamble does neither mention a reduction of the burden caused by the military base nor the demands of the residents to move it offshore.
The Japanese government explaining the content of the Convention insisted: "The aim is to make a decision on Japan's financial burden." Nevertheless, following the spirit of the Convention, the move to Guam, other alternative facilities for moving Futenma and the return to Japan bases south of Kadena are clearly mentioned there, as a package deal. (14 February 2009, excerpt from Ryukyu Shinpo) 
According to persons that visited the sites of the opposition movement to the military facilities of Takae and Henoko (Okinawa) there are clearly different levels of interest and information between Okinawa and other regions in Japan.
This is not just an exception. There are many other important matters that are not openly reported and I felt that we need to be more aware of many issues, concerning our daily lives as well as peace problems, never openly reported. On the other hand, we must carefully discern mass media news reports.
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