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CRU, “Climategate” and reporting in the Japanese media December 3, 2009

Posted by fukumimi in Communications, Economy & Business, Energy, Environment, Japan, Media.

Or the absence thereof.

It’s come to a point where the situation is beyond absurd. The story has been reported in all the respectable (and not so respectable) English media outlets I keep up with (NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, Times (UK), Guardian, Telegraph, the Indy, special mention of that esteemed outlet the Washington Times whose reporting hardly contained its glee), to a point where it is silly to accuse “the media” of greenwashing.

On the other hand, there seems to be a coordinated effort to keep this out of the Japanese mainstream press. Do a Google News search for say, “climate change” + “data” (気候変動 データ)  or “(global) warming” + “data” (温暖化 データ) or “CRU” (University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, for those of you who have been living under a rock (or in Japan) for the last week or so), and you get (if you are lucky) a grand total of three relevant Japanese language hits. A Bloomberg article, a Slashdot.jp piece and a Wired Vision piece buried in Nikkei’s PC Online publication’s security section. The Bloomberg and Slashdot pieces are dated Dec 2nd. The Wired Vision/PC Online piece is dated Nov 30 (but I suspect the editors thought it was a piece on hacking and it slipped through the net).

None of the major papers, Nikkei, Yomiuri, Asahi, Sankei, Mainichi… None appear to have a related story on this piece of pretty important news in any form searchable on the internet. NONE. Same goes for the TV media. Nothing on NHK, or any of the commercial terrestrial channels.

If I were a betting man, I would have money on this being a Ministry of the Environment Press Club managed greenwash of the most outrageous proportions.

So much for the new administration being a change from the old regime. Either the Minister and Vice-Minister (hello Minister Sakihito Ozawa, Vice-Minister Issei Tajima) are totally clueless, or are, like so many of their predecessors from the now exiled LDP, in cahoots with the bureaucrats in keeping a lid on important news (until at least  Copenhagen COP15, or maybe even longer).

So yet again, we have the media and other forces (the govt and/or bureaucracy and most likely business interests – who seem to have developed a taste for various green subsidies which are quickly turning into the new pork barrel money drip) seemingly taking a united stance against informing the general public about an actual topic worthy of discussion. Not like some actress caught doing drugs. Or the world’s best golf player’s dubious tastes in women.

It is highly unlikely that this story will be kept under wraps for too long. The story is too big for someone not to break rank and do a “scoop”, a week or two (or more?) after the rest of the world. And then the floodgates will open.

But it has to be asked, what are the media getting in return? So much talk of how commercial media (and their ecosystem partners) are in so much financial pain. Maybe something to ease that pain is in the works? I have a strong suspicion that might just be what the doctor ordered.

How long will it take the Japanese media to report Dentsu’s US sexual harassment lawsuit November 2, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Media.
1 comment so far

Gen has many of the links on his post.

The lawsuit makes for interesting reading. It’ll be interesting to see how Dentsu and the defendants answer the charges in court.

I’m not really sure the why the plaintiff had to make a fuss about his trip to the onsen/sento in Japan, though. Prior notice was probably appropriate, but to put a sexual harassment spin on public bathing in Japan is really bizarre.

(Although to be fair, if the defendant exploited the fact that his American colleagues were not familiar with Japanese public bathing facility protocol and denied them the opportunity to avail themselves of a “modesty towel” whilst he himself did and thereby put them in a situation where they had to parade around completely naked, that would be inappropriate)

I wonder if the plaintiff has ever sued his sports club for the fact that the showers and changing room facilites are communal, too……

I find it mildly offensive that is put on the same level as being forced to go to a brothel, or taking up-skirt panty shots of tennis stars or photographing women in swimwear without their consent.

And the claim that “the plaintiff was fired in part because he is Jewish” which appears twice, is a bit of a stretch. There is no account of any racial discrimination in the filing.

Regardless, the comments attributed to the defendant, if they are true, are deeply offending. Having double penetration sex is certainly not a way in which this particular Japanese business man commemorates business dealings. Maybe it is at Dentsu, who am I to know.

The thing that most interests me is how long it will take the Japanese mainstream media to report this court case, and how much attention they will give it.

Remember just a few months ago, when a senior Toyota executive was sued for sexual harrassment, and even Toyota’s advertising purchase power was not enough to prevent the case from making it on to the TV with talking heads criticizing the indiscretion of said executive.

Dentsu however has historically been able to minimize the exposure of its dirty laundry. A few years ago, a senior Dentsu employee was arrested for indecent sexual assault on a train. (OK, he was arrested for groping a woman and the Japanese laws being what they are, don’t give out harsh enough penalties for what is plainly indecent sexual assault, and he was probably charged and fined according to the usual watered down statue the police press for such gropers) None of the TV stations (nor many of the newspapers) reported the person’s name, in contrast to many such cases committed by other people working for companies with less influence over the media.

Mixi to join the OpenSocial bandwagon? November 2, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media, technology.

The Nikkei is reporting that Mixi, Japan’s largest SNS is jumping on the OpenSocial bandwagon.

No official announcement from either Mixi or Google as of noon on Friday Japan time, even though the MySpace announcement  also mentioned in the Nikkei article is the subject of a release from Google.

The Mixi tie-up, if it does materialize, would be an interesting development, given Mixi’s dominant position within the Japanese SNS scene.

Whilst I think opening up is great for users, and is the only way “also rans” can hope to compete with dominant players, it is interesting to see someone in the position that Mixi is in embracing the concept.

Different headlines for different audiences September 11, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Media.
1 comment so far

via Japan Probe

The Yomiuri reports the significant decline in burglaries in the Tokyo area after a couple of groups of thieves were arrested.

The English headline reads: “Tokyo burglaries down 30% after arrest of 2 theft rings

The Japanese headline reads: “荒稼ぎ「悪知恵」中国人窃盗団、摘発後は都内の被害3割減” (“Crafty Chinese theft group made a killing, burglaries drop 30% after their arrest”, is the Japan Probe translation – too lazy to attempt my own)

Whilst the content of the articles is pretty much the same, one does wonder why they made a point of editing the headlines in significantly different fashions. It isn’t the first time newspapers have been found to be channeling different messages to their domestic and english language audiences.

Maybe this can become a series.

MiiStation chosen as one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites for 2007 July 18, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Media.

Congratulations to Matt and team.

When MiiStation.com launched and got Dugg (and also mentioned in the WSJ), there were some people who were sceptical of the service, but I think this is a good example of a service which caters to the less technical savvy (and/or lazy) users who actually comprise the bulk of people on-line.

Matt and friends have recently launched another site, 2kurabe.com, which is basically a Wii Vote channel for the web (including a widget to allow you to add the app to your blog).

Matt, can we expect a Facebook app version? Integration with something like MyBlogLog or similar would also be interesting….

Beyond the casual entertainment value, this type of app which can be used to profile users would be complimentary to other services which attempt to deliver targetted content or advertising….

Japanese video content copyright changes in the works? May 28, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media.

I’ve seen some channels (also here, and here for example, all based on this article) picking up the fact that the Intellectual Property Rights Policy Work Group is set to recommend that video content distribution over the internet be made easier to manage. Currently (legal) internet distribution of such content requires that the distributor get permission from all rights holders associated with the content. The rules for broadcasters is less strict, and the proposal seems to be an attempt to apply the TV broadcaster rules to the internet.

This is part of a drive by the Japanese government to try to make the Japanese content business a global business (and also to drive money and budgets to pet projects which can be claimed to be required to achieve this goal, of course).

Seems pretty attractive on the surface. However, this isn’t really new news. This is the Nikkei’s article regarding this year’s “progress”, and this is last year’s. The plans seem to be virtually the same, which shows that no progress was made last year.

Part of the problem, as the Variety article sort of alludes to, is the structure of showbusiness in Japan, where large, powerful, well connected (to both political, legitimate and less-than-legitimate businesses) “talent” agencies hold a lot of power. These are the groups like Yoshimoto Kogyo, Horipro, Ken-on, Johnny&Associates, etc, etc. (though in fact these agencies are far from difficult to track down, rather they are jealous of their assets and often refuse to give the required permissions which results in stalled efforts to redistribute content. Even for TV broadcasters, who may theoretically be able to just broadcast and pay roylaties later, would not dare going against the wishes of the agencies for whom they rely on “talent” to populate their programming. It would seem from the content aired on Japanese TV, the industry is totally reliant on pretty faces (around which a cross-media marketing blitz is executed) to get ratings. It certainly isn’t the quality of acting or wit)

All the more interesting to see that the working group doesn’t have a single representative from these agencies, but several representatives from broadcasters and content distributors. (see the list of representatives on P17 of this report)

I smell a political tug-of-war, with broadcasters and internet channels on one side trying to change the current status quo where talent agencies have huge amounts of power.

In any case, whilst the WG proposes that:

[..] Internet distribs of previously broadcast TV shows will no longer need to get permissions from all rights holders, as is currently required. Instead they will only have to ensure royalty payments to all rights holders following webcasts of the shows.

this statement requires careful reading. It doesn’t necessarily mean distributors will no longer need to get permissions from rights holders, this could be interpreted that distributors won’t need to get permissions from ALL rights holders, every one last one of them – especially the really difficult to track down rights holders who are no longer in the business or were not credited in the original material.

I can’t see the slave masters talent agencies giving up their grip on the entertainment industry that easily. The talent agencies (Yoshimoto and AVEX notably) are beginning to do their own thing with regards to internet content, and the broadcasters and film distributors (who are also embracing their own closed version of internet broadcasting) don’t want to miss out on the party.

A working group with heavy representation from the broadcaster set would naturally want new regulations which would allow them to use content without permissions from the agencies who they might be in direct competition with for the re-run internet VOD programming. (It is unlikely that agencies would shift wholesale to the internet, at least in the short term, as TV ad revenues are still very lucrative)

I predict that this tug-of-war will continue beneath the surface for a while.

Google/Feedburner May 24, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media.
1 comment so far

With the Google’s Feedburner purchase looking like a done deal, I wonder what that means for Feedburner.jp, which is currently being run by GMO Ad Networks.

As the Jp specific stats were never broken out, it is difficult to determine how much traction the Japanese service has been able to gain, but in any case, I would think that Google will review the arrangement.
There doesn’t seem to be much justification for allowing GMO Ad Networks to retain the current arrangement, I’m sure Google will want to try to get more penetration for Feedburner in Japan, either through their own efforts or by expanding the number of agencies which are incentivised to promote the service, and GMO Ad Networks will just be one of many agencies helping to spread the word at best.

I guess this is the kind of risk one faces when one relies on 3rd party technology platforms for your business, especially in a space where acquisitions are far from unforseeable.

Internet advertising catching up to magazine advertising February 22, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, Internet, Japan, Media.

[note: title and some text edited because it was pointed out that I can’t read 4 digit numbers properly…]

Dentsu, the Japanese advertising agency, has released statistics for the Japanese advertising market. Link

The total market size was just shy of 6 trillion yen (5.9954 trillion yen), which equates to around $50 billion, a 0.6% increase on the previous year.

Breakdown by medium shows that of the mass media channels (total 3.58 trillion yen), TV has the largest share at 2 trillion yen, newspapers at 999 billion yen, magazine advertising at 389 billion yen, and radio at 174 billion yen.
All 4 mass media posted year-on-year decreases, with newspapers taking the biggest hit (down 3.8%, TV was down 2%, and the others were also between 1-2% down).

On the other hand, most of the sales promotion (SP) advertising market (total 2 trillion yen), posted growth, with OOH, transportation and POP sectors posting the strongest growth of more than 3% each.

The big story is that internet advertising posted 363 billion yen in sales in 2006, 29.3% year-on-year growth, and now surpasses is on track to overtake (edited) the magazine advertising market. (The growth is down from 54.8% the previous year, though) Internet advertising accounted for 6% of the total advertising spend. The numbers for internet advertising include mobile internet, which is already a well established market in Japan.

I’ve always wondered if people not on flat rate data packages get annoyed by the fact that they are paying to have advertising displayed on their screens. I would have thought that banner ads (which is common on the mobile screen) account for a significant amount of data.

Trash Media and Convenience Stores February 2, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan, Media.

Via JapanProbe

Whilst the convenience store isn’t the place you would go to buy any real book, this piece of publishing trash must be about as bad as it gets.

It is bad enough that porn magazines are on public display next to the normal periodicals (most of those have smutty content as well, but at least in the case of those publications, the smut subsidises for what appears to be the closest thing to published investigative journalism that the Japanese media can muster), not even an attempt to key them out of sight or reach of small children. Then there is the level of sex in comics targetted at teens and even pre-teens.

But, although I’m a firm believer in the freedom of speech, I certainly can’t agree with the distribution of a pathetic xenophobic piece of crap like the “mook” (=japanglish word for a m(agazine)-(b)ook) shown above, albeit from the well known publishers of porn featuring lots of girls wearing high school attire, Eichi Shuppan who probably account for a decent proportion of sales of convenience store magazines (especially late at night).

Eichi also publishes a bunch of magazines/mooks profiling Korean celebrities, catering for the sad but probably harmless Fuyu-no-sonata bored housewife set. How’s that for covering all the bases.

I wonder what logic drove Family Mart, Amazon, 7&Y (the company behind 7-11 and Itoyokado), Kinokuniya (the book store), Yamato Transport, and Rakuten, to name the more famous names behind the places where the title can be bought to stock these titles.

Freedom of speech is one thing, but in this day and age, I think it is a pretty dangerous strategy to stock books that prominently feature rascist caricatures of foreigners and (admittedly inside the book – sorry, mook) the n-word in huge type under the pretext of publishing “a collection of crimes committed by foreigners”. Definitely not very PC.

The scary thing is that the sentiments expressed by such provocative publications may not be too far from the privately held sentiments of many (although by no means all) Japanese, only varying in degree. It isn’t helped by the bad behaviour of a small minority of foreigners who live in Japan, and the media’s fascination for selective reporting of stories involving foreigners. There is much simmering discontent in Japan, and it is being expressed by picking on a minority. So what else is new….

Why do I draw attention to this embarrasing situation? Because time and time again, Japan, its businesses, and many of its people, have shown that, left to their own devices, they have no particular inclination to change their ways, and unfortunately only by airing dirty laundry and attracting voices of criticism from the global community, can Japan be forced to change.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everything that global pressure is trying to force on Japan is, in my opinion, good. Far from it. But rascist rubbish (and, perhaps more importantly, its tolerance by the general public and businesses) needs to be addressed, and this is an instance of a need to air dirty laundry in public.

Apa Group and the structural engineering fraud scandal January 26, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan, law, Media, Society.

The media started reporting that 2 Apa Group hotels in Kyoto have been shut down by local authorities who have announced that they have found that the two buildings did not comply with building code regulations relating to earthquakeproofing.

I first wrote about Apa’s scandals back in October, and Togo Fujita, the disgraced CEO of eHomes (a private building inspection agency  which had been one of the original whistleblowers in the Aneha/Huser scandal – albeit they were also the ones that rubberstamped the inspections previously) had mentioned that Apa Group buildings were suspect as far back as March 2006 (his comments were not widely broadcast by the media at that time, and most of the media also ignored the issue when it was widely reported around the blogosphere in October when Fujita communicated several statements through the mysterious and widely read Kikko’s Blog).

The news media have ignored the cases reported in October, which related to residential complex developments by the Apa Group in Chiba and Saitama. People who had put down deposits for their new homes complained that they did not recieve adequate communications from Apa, who eventually refunded the deposits. Apa had sent Fujita a letter threatening legal action back in October, which apparently was just bluster as Fujita has not received notice of legal action even three months later.

The question seems to be, why now?

Timing of such disclosures by government related agencies are so often politically motivated so let us consider what the government would like the media to stop reporting about…..

Closing arguments for (ex-)Livedoor’s Horiemon’s criminal case were scheduled for today. Does the government suspect that the criminal case is weak and will not be able to lock him away? (Verdict on March 16th)

I don’t think the Abe government are going to pull out all the stops to protect either Livedoor/Horiemon or the prosecutor’s office. So, moving along….

Abe’s cabinet continues to leak stories of misusing political funds. In the last couple of months, we’ve had Honma (who was shacked up in cushy bureaucrat housing with his mistress), Ibuki (Education minister, who was claiming he spent tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on office rent, although his registered office was in the rent-free diet members’ building. Rent bills do not need a receipt under the lax rules pertaining to politicians’ expenses, and it now appears many people are abusing this by spending the money on non-rent related things (like food) and then just claiming an arbitary amount of rent – politicians’ expenses merits a separate post of its own) , Matsuoka (Agriculture Minister, ditto), and now Kyuma (Defense Minister, whose registered offices appear to be a mahjong parlour and an ex-secretary’s residence). Abe’s popularity is now down below 40%, and a quiet news week would probably have resulted in the Kyuma issue given much exposure in the mainstream press.

Why has it taken so long to uncover these problems? Is it because Apa Group is close to Shinzo Abe?

Perhaps, but I’m guessing the powers who control these things were also sitting on it to use when they needed to deflect attention from some even worse (but less likely to caputre the public’s imagination) news, such as the political scandals. And just think, people like Huser’s Ojima and Apa’s weird dressing female CEO thought they had bought their way into the inner circle of power by supporting (I don’t think it was just vocal support) Abe. I bet they are feeling like right tools now when they realise they have been milked and then dumped to change the subject. Perhaps they should ask for their money back. But then I don’t expect that they got a receipt for their contributions.