Edited By Tom Gill, Brigitte Steger and David H. Slater
Part 2 Coping with Life after the Nuclear Disaster
David McNeill Them versus Us: Japanese and International Reporting of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis On 7 April 2011, as Japan tottered back to its feet after the 11 March calam- ity, I chaired a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) held by Higashikokubaru Hideo, then a candidate in Tokyo’s gubernatorial election. A famous comedian before he entered politics, Higashikokubaru was uncharacteristically sombre as he discussed what Japan must do to recover from the terrible damage inf licted by the disas- ter. A major problem, he intoned, was the non-Japanese reporting of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. ‘Do you think we foreign journalists have done a bad job of reporting the disaster?’ I asked him and he turned, unsmiling, to face me full on for the first time. ‘Yes, I do’, he replied. That stinging rebuke in the venerated sixty-year-old home of the for- eign press in Japan epitomized criticism of American and European jour- nalists in the month after 3.11. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Af fairs led the criticism of ‘excessive’ coverage in April, singling out the Blade, a local US newspaper from Toledo, Ohio, that ran a cartoon depicting three mush- room clouds, one each for Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima.1 Newsweek Japan was one of several publications to take up the cudgel against shrill, alarmist gaijin (foreigner) reporters (Yokota 2011). ‘The foreign media in Japan … has been put on a pedestal as the paragon of journalism, and was viewed as a source of credibility....
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