Saturday, December 16, 2006

A JCP/JSP Editorial Masquerading as News Makes Its Way on to the BBC Website

Kidding. But the headline "Japan Rolls Back Pacifist Pillars" is alarming without illuminating.. And the text does not do much to dispel the fear, as it opens with the following declaration:

"Japan's conservative government chipped away at two pillars of the country's postwar pacifism, requiring schools to teach patriotism and upgrading the Defense Agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II."

At first glance, the BBC seems to want you to believe that this is the doing of "Japan's conservative (sic) government" led by Prime Minister Abe. But the DPJ, the main opposition party, supported both the introduction of patriotism into the Education Basic Law and the Self-Defense Agency upgrade to full ministry rank.

BBC barely acknowledges this fact, and only half of it at that, when it states that the "upgrading of the Defense Agency under the Cabinet Office to a full ministry passed Parliament without significant opposition, propelled by deep concern in Japan over North Korean missile and nuclear weapons development".

From the tone of the article, including a quote from a JCP spokesman, an unsuspecting reader will be led to believe that there is deep dissatisfaction among the Japanese public with the direction the government is taking. Perhaps. And I myself believe that current talk of education reform fails to address the core issues in the failure of the public school system. Still, to insinuate that an administration that "has suffered sharp drops in popularity polls since taking office in September over the perception that he has not paid enough attention to domestic issue" can push these measures in the face of substantive opposition during a short, usually pro-forma Diet session convened to select a new prime minister borders on the absurd.

Whichever side of the debate you happen to fall on, this article does disservice to you. The lack of any mention of Japan's neighbors' reactions, official or private, is also unsatisfactory to say the least. (Though the Japanese media does not seem to be doing any better on this count.)

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