Friday, December 10 2010 @ 09:29 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
The phrase "Fourth Estate" was coined by an 18th century's
Irish statesman Edmund Burke but now it's commonly used to stress the independence
of the media from the three branches of a government. Personally I'm inclined to include "independent" experts in sociopolitical issues in the fourth branch of the regime because they can't live a day without
the favor from the media.
In reality, though, not a single mainstream media organization is independent of the
other estates. That is why someone founded Reporters without Borders, or
Reporters sans Frontieres in French, in Montpellier, France as a "press freedom watchdog"
25 years ago. The nonprofit organization, now based in Paris, never refers
to itself as RWB presumably because a "W" can stand for "with" as well as "without." Instead, it uses the French abbreviation, RSF, even in an English publication.
I don't know, neither do I want to know, when RSF started releasing its annual press freedom ranking.
With these in mind, let's take a look at the following table:
No. of Countries/Regions on the List
United States (American Territory)
United States (Extra-Territorial, incl. Iraq)
In recent years RSF had already discredited itself as an independent body by favoring some countries
and disfavoring some others apparently under the influence of obsolete ideologies flavored with liberal bias. But if
you look at the most recent standings for the G8-plus-1 countries shown on the extreme right column,
you will know these self-styled guardians of press freedom now look really
like hordes of cretins.
Just take Japan for example.
Earlier this week, an Italian journalist by the name of Silvio Piersanti
gave me an e-mail from his newsroom at Il Venerdi (Friday) to ask a very valid question. He was wondering about the reason
behind Japan's quick ascension in the RSF ranking. He needed that information
because he was writing an article on the Japanese media.
My answer was that there was no reason, whatsoever, for the phenomenal
rise. The notoriously exclusive Kisha Kurabu (press club) system is still there and we don't see any sign that it's
going to disappear anytime soon. Reporters and editors in the "information
cartel" are still doing a good job by ingeniously standardizing, sanitizing
and homogenizing news stories as Laurie Anne Freeman exquisitely described
in her marvelous book, Closing the Shop.
The most recent news reports have it that in the face of the free fall
of his cabinet approval rating, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is now thinking
about joining forces with the largest opposition LDP over the yearend.
In disseminating their speculation about Kan's survival strategy, media obscurantists are trying to immunize their gullible audiences for the idea that when
something like that materializes, we call it a Grand Coalition. But actually,
that's not what it is; it's yet another reunification of the twin parties coming from the same egg.
It's not that Japan's media are particularly in love with Akikan (an Empty Can) as Kan is dubbed lately. But they certainly know the last
bastion of the current polity named the 1955 System is this Kisha Kurabu where
the Fourth Estate can have a clandestine affair with any one of the other
The first name of the Italian journalist reminded me of Silvio Berlusconi,
the media tycoon. I asked him if he thinks Italy will quickly overtake
Japan on the RSF list when the other Silvio resigns as prime minister. In response,
"I'm afraid that he won't resign. His ultimate dream is to end his
political career as President of the Italian Republic after changing the
constitution to give him more decisional power. (His model is his close
friend Putin.) If he manages to survive the current crisis (we will know
it on Dec. 14th's confidence vote in Parliament) we'll have to stand him
for several more years, unfortunately. This coming Saturday, there will
be a big march through Rome against Berlusconi. We expect about 2 million
people taking part in it. (snip) [But] the real problem is that the majority
of Italians like Berlusconi; his Byzantine style of life, his cynical shrewdness." · read more (380 words)
The phrase Digital Maoism (aka Online Collectivism) was coined by Jaron Lanier, an American computer scientist, composer, visual artist and author, in his May 2005 essay.
Four years later, a growing number of Netizens are becoming fascinated with a new literary format named six-word stories. The slogan there is,
"Brevity is a virtue." The one who has led the way to the kiddy stuff since last year gives Ernest Hemingway
credit for his inspiration. According to him, the shortest-ever story in the history of literature is the one written by the American Nobel laureate. It goes like this:
For sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.
This crap is supposed to be considered profound simply because it's Hemingway. But I suspect that the new breed of American Netizens owe Japanese haiku poets their literary movement more than they owe it to Hemingway.
As I explained in a TokyoFreePress story titled Seamless Transition from Haiku to Keitai, nothing illustrates the essence of Japanese culture better than their obsession with the myth of homogeneity. In literature, the same pathological trait has translated into the 17-syllable format since the 17th century. Without the delusive belief that all the community members shared the same set of word associations, they would never have thought a minimal number of words would be enough to have their messages get through to the receiving ends. This is how the haiku mentality has taken root in this climate.
The myth was invented in the early 8th century by a couple of successive emperors as a tool for pacifying the Japanese archipelago. Ever since their successors have taken advantage of the mental defect to the fullest by leveraging the same method. Even today the media keep implanting into their audience a logic circuit that always ensures a standardized response to a given stimulus.
To Japanese, it has always been true that "less is more." But before long we will be hearing them say, "Nothing is everything," because the typical distortion of Buddha's tenet is an inevitable consequence of the pursuit of brevity. This is where the world's most hive-minded people are destined.
It is also interesting to know that if you compose a good haiku (there are some,) you'll get a favorable review which is often hundred times longer than your piece, whereas if you choose to give a full-length elaboration on your thought, as I often do, the longest feedback you can expect from your audience is a 17-syllable-long review. Most typically it's as short as 12-syllables: nagasugite yomu-ki ga shinai, or I don't want to read such a wordy piece. It's against this backdrop that manga now accounts for more than 70% of all the printed publication in Japan. And as you may know, manga are much less wordy as compared to comics in the West. Sometimes they have no speech bubbles.
As Lanier feared four years ago, the same thing is happening in America. The country is now rapidly transforming itself from a diverse culture to a hive-minded society. Small wonder that the six-word format is flourishing in the Obama Nation.
Lanier's May 2005 essay discusses a lot about the pros and cons of the
Wikipedian way of thinking, but actually Digital Maoism refers to the general attitude of a broader Internet population. So let me give you a different perspective on
this trend here.
You are often asked, or ask yourself, these questions - whether you approve
or disapprove of things such as:
●Democracy as against autocracy
●Republicans as against Democrats (in America)
●Liberal Democratic Party as against Democratic Party of Japan (in Japan)
●War as against peace ●Multilateralism as against unilateralism
●Resort to military option as against the "keep dancing at the U.N. ballroom" option
●Free market system as against centrally controlled economy
●Right to carry firearms
●Proliferation as against the oligopoly of the nukes
The list of FAQs goes on and on. Actually it's as long as the hyper-extensive agenda of the sufferer of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in the White House. · read more (758 words)
Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 08:55 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Reporters without Boarders (or Reporters sans Frontieres) was founded in
1985 in Montpellier, France. Ever since the self-proclaimed press freedom
watchdog, now based in Paris, has kept a watchful eye on the mainstream
and web-based media worldwide.
In the past RSF earned a good reputation for its relatively unbiased way of providing
comparative data about how far reporters of each country were allowed to
exercise press freedom. But in recent years RSF has been increasingly discrediting
Let's take a look at the press freedom ranking RSF publishes
every year. The following list shows how G-8 countries and China fared in comparison with other
countries in 2004 and 2008:
Anyone in his right mind will have difficulty understanding how
RSF came up with its "Press Freedom Indices" when press freedom
is something that you can't readily quantify - unless you are prejudiced against
some regimes and in favor of some others.
In fact the press freedom watchdog relies primarily on the statistical
figures available to it, such as:how many journalists and bloggers were killed, arrested,
physically assaulted, threatened and how many media outlets and websites
were censored, blocked, shut down and suspended. That means that RSF has
to use arbitrary criteria when it comes to nations where such an overt suppression
of free press is not commonplace.
Looking at the apparently politicized ranking, you certainly feel like recollecting
what happened in these nine countries between 2004 and 2008.
France sank to No. 35 presumably because the pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy became the 23rd President of the French Republic in May 2007. No other event would explain France's sharp descent. · read more (699 words)
Friday, April 17 2009 @ 07:18 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
One of my American friends is a literary agent. She is a very intelligent person. A couple of days ago I received a mail from her in which she commented on some of my recent pieces like this:
"I particularly found fascinating your writing about your father,
his knowledge about airplanes and his unheeded warning to the Japanese
command of the need to develop an air force. I think in order to tell your
father's story to the widest possible audience you have made the right
decision to do so online. [But] you may find that the impact of what you
are publishing online leads a publisher to contact you to write a book
based on this information."
I know her comment was well-intended. But I am afraid she misunderstood me. Firstly, the fact that Japan did not have its Luftwaffe (Air Force) was the smallest part of my father's problem. Secondly, I'm fighting against my own enemies, not my father's. It's just that most of my foes happen to be the descendants of those who stood in my father's way. And lastly, but most importantly, I have no intention to use my website as a stepping stone to something more "real."
After the "dot-com bubble" burst in the early-2000, we saw signs
that new crops of Netizens were emerging on the horizon of the cyberspace.
In February 2005, Steve Chen and two other young men founded YouTube, LLC.
In December 2006, TIME magazine selected You as its Person
of the Year. These events gave us a good reason to be upbeat about our future.
But this didn't last long. We've been experiencing a serious setback in
the Internet-driven revolution ever since.
In November 2006, Google Inc. acquired YouTube, LLC. Its co-founders may
have earned $1.65 billion from the deal, but we Netizens lost much more
than that because Google's move actually signaled a counterrevolutionary move to defuse the fledgling Netizens' Republic.
For the part of TIME magazine, it picked Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama
as the persons of the years 2007 and 2008, respectively, as if to retract
its previous support to independent bloggers, selfless Wikipedians
and open-source software developers.
Obviously, the likes of Google and TIME are trying to artfully domesticate
and neutralize these wild animals so that the old media empires can claim dominance over the emerging Netizenry. Indications thus far are that the media establishment
wants to see independent Netizens eventually go extinct.
In order to show you my way of analyzing the current situation of this
warfare, let me try classifying the millions of videos you can watch on
YouTube into 9 different categories as below:
Examples include Paul Potts, a former employee of a carphone warehouse company and Susan Boyle, a Scottish church volunteer.
Most famously the YouTube Symphony Orchestra was formed through online
audition to stage a concert at Carnegie Hall earlier this month. I don't think this is what the co-founders had in mind when they employed the "Broadcast Yourself" slogan.
Many people are advertising their books, CDs and DVDs, for free, in order
to broaden their audiences.
Many people have uploaded TV programs ABC, CNN, etc. have run in the past.
Rare Film Footage or Recording
My own video about the
legendary aircraft falls on this category.
Political Campaign by Independent
Maverick Republican Ron Paul is the best example. I have embedded
some of his videos in this blog.
Musical Performance by Amateur or Semi-Pro
Innumerable people are generously sharing their performances just for fun. I have favorited dozens of them on my YouTube channel. A smile-inducing video uploaded by German girls is embedded below as an example. A world filled with their music makes your life really worth living.
You can watch tutorials, lectures, religious preaches and many other visual
presentations of educational materials. You may generically call them a
visualized Wikipedia. Among other things, I found Daniel Barenboim's masterclass
series (embedded below) quite impressive, although I don't particularly want to be a master of the instrument.
Some people are working on visualized versions of their blogs.
Thursday, February 23 2006 @ 12:37 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
On February 20, the Daily Yomiuri ran an English translation of the editorial published on the same day by its parent daily, the
Yomiuri Shimbun. It was unabashedly titled "Newspapers'
status should be respected".
The first paragraphs read like this:
"The important role to be played by newspapers in maintaining and
promoting the culture of the printed word deserves attention.
"The Fair Trade Commission has started reviewing its own designation
of several categories of products and services, including newspapers, as
exceptions to the application of the Antimonopoly Law. The FTC has said
it will form a conclusion on the issue by the end of June.
"If the exception granted to newspapers is forfeited or limited, it
could spark an intense competition among newspaper publishers for a greater
share of the market. That could also fundamentally shake the newspaper
industry's home delivery system, which enables anyone to buy the same newspaper
at the same price anywhere in the nation.
"The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association opposes an
expected change in the the (sic) special status given to newspapers, citing
the need to preserve the home delivery system as a means of steadily distributing
newspapers to readers and protecting the freedom of speech." · read more (727 words)
Monday, January 09 2006 @ 03:51 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
I turned to one of my Japanese
acquaintances to introduce me to his friend who is a veteran reporter at
Kanagawa Shimbun, the leading local newspaper publisher in KanagawaPrefecture, headquartered in the port city of Yokohama, on the assumption that unlike journalists at the mainstream media organizations, those in the local media can tell what they are doing, on what grounds, and with what consequences.
That's how I could talk to the reporter on September 25 when this person
had just gotten through with the hectic time it had in the company-wide
scramble to cover the Election 2005. (In this piece I will refer to the
interviewee with a pseudonym of "K. Aihara · read more (390 words)
Although it may not be customary to run an article for correction when
an editorial is found to be a fallacy, as is often the case with Japanese
newspapers, some of your ten-million subscribers feel that
you now owe them one. Actually a correction and apology for purposely deceiving your
readership are almost three months overdue now.
On August 18, in the midst of the campaign 2005, the Yomiuri Shimbun and
the Daily Yomiuri editorialized that "waning of factions [in the Liberal
Democratic Party] led to [the] birth of [a] new party." It's all
the more impermissible as you boldly used the past tense. But if you had
written "may lead" instead, still it wouldn't have been any more acceptable
because you knew very well that wasn't going to be the case at all. · read more (598 words)
Monday, October 17 2005 @ 06:58 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
According to October 15 issue of the Daily Yomiuri, its parent the Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a survey on September 17-18 by interviewing 3,000
people of voting age. Of those interviewed, 1,825 people, or 60.8%, actually
answered the questions.
The DY boasts: "91% of respondents said newspapers were essential
even in an era [of the Internet], indicating that an overwhelming majority
of people still consider newspapers to be an important medium for gathering
While the reported response rate is not particularly high, we have a good
reason for being skeptical about the 60.8% figure. As recently as in 2003,
Nippon Television Network Corp., the TV broadcasting arm of the Yomiuri
media empire, was accused of manipulating viewing rates. Although the revelation
has since been buried in oblivion as if it was an isolated mishap, everybody
with a certain amount of commonsense knows it was just the tip of the iceberg. · read more (292 words)
Friday, September 16 2005 @ 03:15 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
On September 16 the Yomiuri Shimbun and its English edition Daily Yomiuri
reported the results of a survey they conducted on August 6 and 7 of 3,000 people randomly chosen from among the voting-age population. According to the report, 88% of 1,798
respondents had answered they were proud of their nationality.
Pollsters prosper in any democracy in the world, no matter whether it's
a sound democracy or a sick and dying one such as Japan.
But if there is any distinctive feature in opinion polls in Japan, it's
the fact that both pollsters and pollees think the results of surveys are always reliable and indicative of the real state of things, no matter how the questionnaire is formulated unprofessionally, as it always is, and no matter how the results are analyzed unprofessionally, as they always are. · read more (528 words)
Type 1: To tell something that's not supported by the fact, or just avoid mentioning a relevant fact.
Type 2: To tell the fact, and yet hold back the truth by putting it
in the wrong perspective, or wrong context.
These definitions are nothing new. But if you carefully watch the behavior of the Japanese mainstream media, you will notice that they are now resorting to Type 1 more frequently than ever, defying the fact that every news story now hits the Net before Japanese reporters and editors can decide to suppress it.
Since the August 8 dissolution
of the House of Representatives, the Japanese people have been caught, like a captive audience, in the same old big fuss over the 9-11 snap election.
If there is anything that has a newish flavor in the media's coverage of the 2005 election campaign, it's such rhetoric as:
- A long-awaited modern two-party system is taking root on this soil.
- A sound and strong Japan is on the horizon thanks to the drive by
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
I will deal with these Type 2 fallacies in a separate piece to be posted on this blog in the next few days. But for now,
I will show you below here some examples of more straightforward fallacies (Type
1) from their coverage of the ongoing campaign:
Koizumi's rape case hushed up by JNPC
Junichiro Koizumi allegedly raped a female university student back in
1967. Our Prime Minister is also suspected to have repeated sexual offense several times even after
he got into politics.
In March 2004, former NTV reporter Aiji Kimura lodged
a civil suit against the Prime Minister with the Tokyo District Court,
singling out the 1967 case. In July, the
court quickly dismissed the accusation as totally unsubstantiated. · read more (1,444 words)
Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 08:20 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
There are two types of lies the mainstream media are telling their readership
Type 1: Telling something that's not supported by the fact, or just avoiding mentioning it.
Type 2: Telling the fact, and yet holding back the truth by putting it in the wrong perspective, or wrong context.
They prefer and prioritize the use of Type 2. Although it takes some mastery and more sophistication than the other type, the beauty of Type 2 is it makes the "political sandmen" (Ian Buruma's coined words) look more professional and reliable.
Their readerships and audiences, however, have been growing insecure these days about the health, or even viability, of this society and the system. They have started wondering something may be fundamentally wrong because the total picture shown by the media is looking more and more inconsistent and ill-founded.
That's why the media sometimes cannot but resort to Type 1 which is much simpler and more straightforward. But most of the time, they cannot expect the primitive and transparent
lies to work to their satisfaction in the era of the Internet and communications satellites.
One way to shed light on the modus operandi of the today's media is obviously to look back on how they behaved in the prewar and wartime years. If you spare some time to leaf through Japanese newspapers of the first half of the 1940s, you will be surprised to know the modi operandi of the Japanese printed media were primarily Type 2, not Type 1. · read more (1,596 words)
And another question to be asked of the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Daily Yomiuri
would be: Who decided postal privatization is synonymous with postal reform?
The turmoil resulting from the August
8 dissolution of the House of Representatives is getting real
ugly day by day.
The 37 intra-party rebels headed by former House of Representatives speaker
Tamisuke Watanuki are toning down their rhetoric against LDP Chairman Junichiro
Koizumi and his toadyish lieutenants in the face of the unexpectedly high-handed
and uncompromising attitude of the party leadership.
The LDP leadership has now made it clear that these rebels in the Lower
House cannot expect the party endorsements when running in the September
11 snap election on the pretext that the upcoming general election is a
de facto referendum on the postal "reform" bills which was voted
down on August 8 at the House of Councilors.
These rebels, whose only sin has lain with the fact that they have their vested
interest in the Japan Post to varying degrees and in one way or the other, are increasingly wavering
over whether to turn themselves in to the leadership. · read more (1,145 words)
Friday, August 05 2005 @ 06:57 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Aphasia is a loss or impairment of the ability to produce or comprehend
language, due to brain damage. It is usually a
result of damage to the language centres of the brain (like Broca's area). These areas
are always located in the left hemisphere and in most people this is where the ability to produce and comprehend
language is found. However in a very small number of people language ability
is found in the right hemisphere. Damage to these language areas can be
caused by a stroke or physical injury. Depending on the area and extent
of the damage, someone may be able to speak but not write, or vice versa,
or understand more complex sentences than he can produce. The brains of
young children with brain damage sometimes restructure themselves to use
different areas for speech processing, and regain lost function; adult
brains are less "plastic" and lack this ability. (From Wikipedia)On the eve of the planned vote on the "controversial" postal
"reform" bills at the House of Councillors, an LDP lawmaker by
the name of Yoji Nagaoka hung himself with a tie.
The news broke out at around 12:00 noon on the Net and TV. Since he belonged
to an LDP faction led by Shizuka Kamei, former chairman of the LDP's Policy Research Council, who spearheads the intra-party "revolt"
against the postal privatization bills, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's
pet project, everyone automatically linked his suicide to the fierce infight
over these bills. · read more (788 words)
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
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. · read more (925 words)
Now that Fuji TV Network of the Fuji-Sankei media group and Livedoor, an
Internet service provider which is dwarfed by the media behemoth, have reached an
amicable, face-saving and empty agreement after a couple of months of the dirty, un-capitalistic
"bidding battle" for a controlling stake in
AM-radio broadcaster NBS, some of us find ourselves wondering what the future of
the media, printed media in particular, should be like. (See
April 19 TFP story "Horie's bid comes to an end in anticlimax, whatever
it was all about.")
Unfortunately, and quite naturally, the mainstream media cannot address
this issue head-on because there, they cannot get around the question about their own survival. For one thing the April 21 issue of the Daily Yomiuri ran an
analysis headlined "Battle for NBS triggers debate over journalism"
by its staff writer Yoshikazu Suzuki. But his arguments betrayed the intriguing headline
because the only specific proposition the staff writer could elaborate
on was totally irrelevant to the issue. He argued there that every TV station should further enhance its "closed captioned
service" in the interest of 6 million people whose hearing is impaired.
Below here I will try to specifically identify the critical points at issue
when discussing the future of the Web-based journalism in this country: · read more (1,558 words)
Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 07:18 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
When Takafumi Horie, founder and CEO of Internet service company Livedoor,
launched in early February a hostile takeover bid for Nippon Broadcasting
System, AM-radio broadcaster within the Fuji-Sankei media group, we thought
the 32-year-old maverick was going to make some difference to the media
landscape here. (See Feb. 21 and Feb. 24 TFP stories.) At the initial stage, the CEO of Livedoor blatantly assaulted
the seiron rosen (see above links) upheld by the printed media arms of the Fuji-Sankei
group, such as the Sankei Shimbun. Horie looked to know very well this hypocritical editorial policy is the most vulnerable and weakest spot of the media group. In February, weekly magazine "AERA" published by the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun quoted him as saying "Sankei shimbun nanka ga ikura waa-waa waa-waa ittari, kyokasho wo kakinaoshitari
shitemo yononaka chittomo kawarimasen yo." This casual remark quoted here is roughly translated like this: "No matter how ardently
the likes of the Sankei daily preach their nationalist cause through their
loudspeakers, or no matter how many times (Sankei-affiliated publisher
Fuso-sha) revises the (junior-high history) textbooks, that won't make
the slightest difference to the society."
However, no sooner could Horie successfully secure a majority stake in NBS, in terms
of voting right, than he toned down his attacks against the media group at its Acchilles' heel. And consequently we have quickly lost interest in the whole "bidding battle" launched by the maverick corporate raider against the media behemoth because it now became apparent that his harsh criticism against the seiron rosen had been nothing but a pretext on which to pick the fight.
· read more (590 words)
Sunday, February 27 2005 @ 01:23 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
This morning on the TV Asahi's "Sunday Project", founder and
CEO of Livedoor Takafumi Horie elaborated some more on what for he is seeking
a business alliance with the Fuji-Sankei media group.
While Fuji TV Network has virtually barred him from its studios despite
the "lofty mission to serve the public interest" it claims to uphold,
the Asahi TV and its affiliates, including the Asahi Shimbun, are the only
media group that has sided with the maverick media raider, though in a
lukewarm way. It has treated Horie somewhat favorably just because the
Fuji-Sankei group and Asahi group are longtime archrivals.
Soichiro Tahara, regular interviewer in "Sunday Project", looks
on the surface like CNN's Larry King without a holdup suspender. But in
fact he is one of those Japanese interviewers who don't, or can't, represent themselves
and keep asking invalid and predictable questions. · read more (934 words)
The "bidding battle" over control of Nippon
Broadcasting System between, Fuji TV Network, flagship entity in the Japan's biggest Fuji-Sankei media empire, and Livedoor, JPY 30 billion Internet service provider, took a new twist on Wednesday.
NBS announced its board of directors had decided to issue new voting shares on March 24 and give Fuji TV exclusive warrant rights to subscribe these shares in what American securities experts call the "poison pill tactic." The board resolution was announced at a press conference by NBS President Akinobu Kamebuchi. But since in a "convoluted", and often collusive, shareholding
structure particular to Japan, the broadcaster is a nominal parent and
virtual subsidiary of Fuji TV, the resolution was also a nominal one just to formalize the decision taken on the part of Fuji TV to resort
to the poison pill tactic to counter Livedoor's bid for a controlling stake in NBS.
More specifically Fuji TV decided to have NBS issue
stock warrants for 47.2 million new shares to be exercised exclusively by the TV network between March 25 and June 24 at a preferential price of JPY
5,950 per share. Since the number of the NBS's outstanding shares stands
at 32.8 million at present, the warrant rights will dilute overall shareholders'
stakes by more than half when Fuji TV exercises them.
Until the surprise announcement by Kamebuchi, Livedoor's founder and CEO Takafumi
Horie by far outsmarted Fuji TV and could acquire
a 40% stake in NBS that compares to Fuji's 25%. But now it looks as though Fuji TV has turned the tables on Livedoor. If and when the
warrants are fully converted into new shares by Fuji TV, Livedoor's stake will come down
to about 16% while Fuji's stake will jump to the neighborhood of 70%. · read more (787 words)
Monday, February 21 2005 @ 11:30 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Takafumi Horie, 32, founder and CEO of JPY 30 billion Internet service
provider Livedoor Co., Ltd., has recently started buying into Nippon Broadcasting
System, Inc. to acquire a controlling share in the broadcaster. NBS is
the parent of flagship entities of the Fuji-Sankei Group such as Fuji TV
Network Inc. As of today Horie could acquire more than
40% of the outstanding voting shares of NBS, raising the necessary funds
by having Lehman Brothers underwrite JPY 80 billion-worth convertible bonds
with a "Moving Strike" clause. Horie has made it clear by now
that his ultimate goal in seeking a majority stake in NBS is to form a
broad business alliance with the Fuji-Sankei Group on an equal footing.
Horie has been doing all this in an absolutely legitimate way in the light of the current Securities Exchange Law. Also he looks to have studied very carefully all the implications of the Broadcast Law which stipulates that a broadcaster's license should be revoked if 20% or
more of its outstanding voting shares are acquired by foreign investors. At present the law doesn't prohibit indirect foreign control of a Japanese broadcaster. So he could make sure it wouldn't constitute a violation of any law if he went ahead with his bid for NBS in which Lehman Brothers would most probably convert all the CBs it underwrote into stocks of Livedoor. · read more (962 words)
Satoru Nagai, a 42-year-old chief producer at the already scandal-tainted Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), "whistle-blew" at a press conference he staged on January 13. Because of the ambiguous and feeble way he brought up the accusation against whoever it was, the personal ordeal he has gone through with a lot of sweat and tears seems to be getting nowhere. Since the way things have unfolded around Nagai's accusation, however, are pretty much indicative of the situation with press freedom in this nation, I will try to reconstruct the entire chronology below here as far as I can: · read more (1,900 words)
Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 09:21 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
On October 26 Reporters without Borders , a Paris-based independent group
of journalists, released the results of its third annual survey on press
freedom in 167 countries, accompanied by a worldwide ranking based on its press freedom index. According to the survey, Japan ranked at the
bottom of the Group of Seven industrialized nations.
This comparison among the G-7 must be fairly representative of how the
Japan's printed media actually fared relative to the other six countries.
But Japan came as high as 42nd among 167 countries surveyed, sharing the
same position with Chile, Namibia and Uruguay. What a compliment!
Needless to say it's extremely hard to quantify various factors involved
there to make press freedom measurable and comparable. But obviously the
independent watchdog of press freedom failed to put Japan very close to
Russia (140th) or even China (162nd) because of an oversight of a more important
factor than "Kisha Kurabu" it cited as the reason for Japan's relatively poor showing. · read more (909 words)