Yesterday, a publisher sent me an eMail to ask me to revise a script of my column to be published in its online magazine. Actually, this is the second time that this publisher requests me to revise what I wrote. As an author of more than 20 books in both Japanese and German, I found that extremely disgusting. However, I evaded any discussion and instructed my PR staff just to withdraw the script.
Based on such an experience, I’d say a silent summer of discontent is slowly coming in Japan. Not only established mass media but also even internet media in Japan obviously practice self-restraint. They exclude whistle blowers and those who point out something significant beyond frameworks they set by themselves. As I professionally tend to refer to something beyond (or against) common sense for innovation, I’m belonging to the latter category.
At least as for mass media in conventional mean, I can understand the reason for such a behavior. From the beginning, mass media have been used by authorities to set their arbitrary frameworks to brains and minds of people. Experts call this “social control”, which is well known nowadays in the civil society.
Internet media were originally regarded as one of effective countermeasures to the priveledge of mass media. While everybody knows mass media don’t tell the truth, all the innovators rush for internet to get a last resort for the freedom of speech. However, the situation has just begun to be changed dramatically by the newly introduced “digital marketing” in Japan.
When something controversial is pointed out in internet, many Japanese tend to massively write harsh criticism on social media. This phenomenon is called “ENJYOU” in Japanese (“Going up in flames” in English). There are some famous websites such as this one which intentionally lead to “ENJYOU” on other sites to in order to draw attention of the public to them. At this stage, there is “theoretically” no problem, as the freedom of speech matters except for defamation.
The problem begins when webmaster of sites with controversial references recognizes that as a risk for business. Japanese experts on digital marketing usually recommend owners of websites that they should delete any controversial texts as soon as possible to avoid “ENJOU”. Without researching correctness of what is written thoroughly, they automatically continue this kind of deletion. Based on this trend, innovative thoughts and diversity of ideas are vanishing in many eminent internet media in Japan. What still remains, are either worthless and trashy texts or repetition of frameworks I mentioned above.
In this regard, there is only a place for genuine innovators in the Japanese society: Their owned media. While both traditional mass media and famous online magazines unconsciously rush for obsolescence, owned medias are last resort for the freedom of speech. The situation was drastically changed, as Google and other providers equip owned media of the individuals with series of digital tools to enhance their effectiveness online.
This week, a very popular comic on gourmet entitled “OISHINBO” was publicly attacked in Japan due to its depiction of hidden relationship between the fatal nuclear disaster in Fukushima and apparent increase of disease afterwards in the Japanese society. While the controversiality as such should have been further discussed openly in public, the publisher decided to give in to harsh criticism from the authorities and suspended serial publication of this comic.
Herewith, I’d like to declare clearly my solidality with Mr. Tetsu KARIYA, author of “OISHINBO” and remind all the readers of essential importance of the freedom of speech for our common future. In the course of increasing volatility in the world community, the ABE administration in Japan apparently makes use of de facto censorship on their inconvenient truth. While a silent summer of discontent is slowly comming here, I’ll further combat every attack from tacit criticism of the socially controlled masses for “Pax Japonica”, our common destiny in the near future.