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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Wednesday, March 29 2017 @ 10:11 PM JST

Bear in mind there's no such thing as half-truth, you mythomaniacs

And not telling a truth is telling a lie.

In psychology, mythomania (also known as mitomania, pseudologia phantastica, or pathological lying) is a condition involving compulsive lying by a person with no obvious source of motivation. The affected person believes their lies to be truth, and may have to create elaborate myths to reconcile them with other facts. (From Wikipedia)

Everyday the mainstream media of Japan are mobilizing their professional mythomaniacs in their pursuit of disseminating falsehood. The only point where they don't really meet the Wikipedia's description of the symptoms is the fact that they make their living as sandmen whose mission is to sprinkle fallacies all over.

As Bob Kohn pointed out in his "Journalistic Fraud" there are a variety of sophisticated methods to cover up, suppress or distort the truth.

One of the typical and most sophisticated ways is an excessive use of passive voice, often unaccompanied by a noun phrase led by a "by". And of course, the least sophisticated way of doing this is just neglecting inconvenient facts.

In Japan, the nation that ranked No. 42 in terms of press freedom in the annual survey by the Reporters without Borders, the media are resorting more frequently than ever to this option these days because they feel they have almost exhausted every possible subtle/professional trick by now.

Or it's just that they have gotten tired of lying.

You may have experienced an awkward situation in the past where you had to follow up your own lie. If you have, you are well aware that it's an extremely irksome task to give a second lie that is logically consistent with the previous one.

On July 28, ex-North Korean spy An Myong Jin was invited to testify before the special investigatory panel of the House of Representatives. The reason why the Japanese government and lawmakers timed this unsworn, and thus valueless, testimony to coincide with the resumption of the six-way talks in Beijing after a hiatus of 13 months was transparent, and totally absurd.

But just the same the mainstream media of Japan featured the congressional hearing as something report-worthy, if not with a lot of fanfare.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, the "moderately right-leaning" daily that boasts a ridiculously enormous circulation of more than ten million, headlined its report like this: "'Number of abduction victims was 30': ex-agent An testifies before special panel of lower house."

"More right-leaning" Sankei Shimbun daily headlined its An coverage: "Ex-North agent An Myong Jin testifies at Diet: '15 Japanese [abductees] still alive'." The subhead read: "Sakie Yokota: 'Government should show more anger'." The Sankei Shimbun even ran an editorial whose argument was so predictable that it doesn't deserve a comment here.

On the following day one of the "ex-abductees" Kaoru Hasuike released an official statement at the municipal office of Kashiwazaki-city, Niigata Prefecture, where he has been living since his repatriation.

His statement in effect indicated An Myong Jin had lied to the investigatory panel as far as the part concerning the ex-abductee's visit to what is now called Kim Jong Il Political and Military University, although Hasuike worded his statement in a very nice Japanese way, e.g., Mr. An's recollection was a little inaccurate, etc. An had said he had once seen Hasuike on the campus of the university.

If you are patient enough to allow me to reiterate my way of viewing the entire "abduction issue" here, these x's (ex-abductees, ex-agents) are also mythomaniacs to varying degrees. You can even say the most honest person involved in this ill-established and poorly-substantiated "state crime" case has been Charles Robert Jenkins, the ex-deserter (to North Korea) turned ex-POW (in North Korea) turned abductee (by the Koizumi government.) (See the September 25 TFP story titled "Charles Robert Jenkins, a deserter or an abductee?".)

That must be the only way to explain the way things have unfolded, or been let drift along, around the abduction issue. Otherwise, we must not have seen the stalemate where stepped up, or sometimes down, rhetoric between Pyongyang and Tokyo has been getting nowhere for almost three years.

Nonetheless it would be considered a crime here to bring into question more or less fishy accounts and tipoffs given by Kaoru Hasuike and other ex-abductees. That's why the Japanese media have single-mindedly labeled these ex's the victims of the state crime masterminded by the Kim Jong Il's father.

By trying to wipe out those suspicions possibly crossing the minds of people with a certain amount of commonsense, the media have effectively contributed to make the genuine abduction cases, such as Megumi Yokota's, further recede from resolution.

In addition to mixing up real abductees with dubious ones, the media have also oversimplified the relations between the two kin peoples, looking away from the historical fact that the traffics of people, their comings and goings, between the Japan archipelago and the Korean Peninsula have never been that simple and unambiguous.

And that's why the real victims, including Megumi Yokota, are gradually, but steadfastly, falling into oblivion now despite the admirable perseverance the Megumi's parents and other family members have been demonstrating.

Against this backdrop the foreign ministry of Japan sent to Beijing a delegate headed by Kenichro Sasae, head of its Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, to take part in the resumed 6-way talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in a gesture of Japan's "resolve" to bring back an unspecified number of kidnappees by an unspecified date.

As you have seen in the last week or so, only thing Sasae could do, under the wing of Christopher Hill, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, was to insist, in a wishy-washy manner, the almost nonexistent issue be touched on at the bottom of the possible joint statement. That would be a "victory" for Japan from the media's point of view.

In the face of the Hasuike's unexpected comments on the An's testimony, there must have been a tacit agreement reached between the government and the media lapdogs in Kisha Kurabu, the notoriously exclusive and collusive Press Club of Japan, that reporting the ex-abductee's denial of the testimony by the ex-spy at this moment could have an adverse effect on the ongoing 6-way talks at the Diaoyutai.

The Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun, among other media organizations, seemed to have decided not to run a report that would have further discredited the ex-spy whose credibility had already been tarnished by repeated flip-flop in his "first-hand" accounts.

Although the other major printed media carried small articles, though buried deep into their evening edition (July 29 Mainichi Shimbun) or morning edition (July 30 Asahi Shimbun), the Sankei and the Yomiuri acted as if nothing had happened to discredit the An's testimony.

This is how Article 21 of the Japan's Constitution is being observed by the mainstream media.

My simplistic interpretation of Article 21, however, is like this: There is no such truth, except for some classified military information, whose revelation can harm the national interest.

But I'm not so naive as to believe that just by pointing this out, I can make some difference to this system that churns out one fallacy after another because the entire system now suffers a refractory illness called mythomania.

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