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Did CNN Japan Suppress the Senkaku Collision Video?

25 Nov 2010

Thanks to growing tensions regarding the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, both the Chinese and Japanese media have learned to tread softly. In China, we’ve seen the government’s zero-tolerance policy for propagating rogue “anti-Japanese messages” online. But – sadly enough – censorship is pretty much a given in China these days. It’s the initial Japanese media treatment of the recent controversy that’s been surprising.

Take the video for the now-notorious Senkaku boat collision incident. Sengoku38, the whistleblowing coast guard official turned folk hero who uploaded the original video, reports that his initial attempt to spread the video was in fact suppressed, forcing him to resort to YouTube. When he first sent the video to CNN’s Tokyo branch, the media scoop was actually ignored. The real question here is: why would CNN Japan gloss over such an important story?

According to Sengoku38’s account, he initially sent the video of the collision to CNN Japan on an SD card, albeit without any additional explanation. However, “they didn’t broadcast it, so [he] decided to upload it [himself].” Whether overlooking the video was merely an accident (a dubious claim for a leading media network) or intentionally motivated by politics, CNN’s Tokyo branch refuses to make any comment on the matter of the video leak.

Sankaku Complex theorizes:

Connected to all this is likely the fact that CNN’s Japanese branch “CNNj” is in fact not an independent international news organisation as Sengoku38 probably assumed, but is actually a joint venture with one of Japan’s own unreliable media conglomerates, in this case Asahi.

Asahi themselves are the most left-wing and pro-Chinese of Japan’s major media organisations, and their reporting praised the government’s decision to release the Chinese captain whilst playing down the footage when it finally came to light. It does not seem likely they would have aired the footage themselves.

So not even Japan is immune from left-wing media conspiracies! The Asahi Corporation is made up of such subsidiaries as TV Asahi – the station that originally aired, among other things, Sailor Moon and Yu-Gi-Oh – and the Asahi Shimbun – Japan’s 2nd most circulated newspaper, boasting alliances with the International Herald Tribune and even the official Chinese Communist Party rag People’s Daily.

With 78% ownership, Asahi is the largest shareholder of CNNj’s parent company, and would therefore hold considerable influence over published material. Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that one Asahi editorial actually criticized Sengoku38 for uploading the video to YouTube rather than sending it to one of Japan’s media companies. The article accused the coast guard official of sensationalizing the collision incident in his “hunger for glory”.

Curiously enough, this horror story sounds exactly like the type of thing that would happen under modern Chinese media suppression – CNN Japan may just be giving Xinhua a run for its money. Perhaps the two countries can resolve their differences over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and celebrate their newfound commonality: ridiculously unscrupulous media practices.

[Livedoor via Sankaku Complex, NSFW]

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