Japan’s Revenge of the Mandarins
OSAKA – Ever since the huge earthquake that hit Japan’s Pacific coast at Tohoku on March 11, 2011, the country’s mass media has obsessively focused on the magnitude of the physical damage and the loss of life. Repeated broadcasts of traumatic video images of the great tsunami and the damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant have been seared into Japan’s collective memory.
One year later, the media will be sure to intensify its reports and broadcasts along the same lines, encouraging the Japanese public to become all the more determined to overcome the disaster. But the Japanese may already have fallen victim to an unforeseen pitfall.
What the Japanese public has endured over the past year is somewhat analogous to what Americans experienced following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Both events severely distorted public discourse. In the United States, the government employed massive propaganda to promote public support for the “global war on terror” that it was about to wage. Video images, particularly of the World Trade Center’s collapsing twin towers, fanned the flames of conflict.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in