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Japan: Missile Launched. What to Believe?

On April 5th, North Korea launched a Taepo Dong 2 ‘rocket’ that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea announced their intentions beforehand and the news was broadcast on the 4th, to which blogger Atsukoba commented:

しかし、マスコミは番組の冒頭や見出しで煽動的な報道を繰り返しています。そこだけ見ると、いまにもミサイルが日本に撃ち落とされるかのように錯覚してしまいます。

And the media is repeatedly fanning the flames with sensational titles and sound bytes. Judging by the headlines, one gets the impression that the missile will land on Japan at any minute now.

The Defense Ministry, eager to seem to be on top of the situation, set off a false alarm, not once but twice. Tobias Harris at Observing Japan covers the chain of misadventures in detail in a post titled “Drowing in Noise“.

While confusion reigned supreme amongst media outlets, government officials and the local municipalities that received bouts of information from them, reactions in the Japanese blogosphere were varied. Many bloggers expressed befuddlement sprinkled with a sense of detachment, wondering what North Korea had hoped to accomplish.

A tumblr post [ja] by Tez with a bullet point list of the factual information from a NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) Radio talkshow has been reblogged over 150 times.

Tez said:

やっぱでもNHK第一ラジオって日本に残された数少ない良質のコンテンツを提供するメディアだよなあと思った。2名程専門家が出てきてたけど、それぞれが独立して自論を述べてた。民放TVなら絶対討論にして訳分からない状態に揉めさせるよな。

All in all, NHK Radio 1 is one of the few media sources offering quality content that's left in Japan. There were two experts on the show, and they both talked about their individual takes on the situation. If this had been a show on a commercial TV channel, it would have been done in discussion-style, designed to generate arguments in an illogical 'round table'manner.

In Tokyo, no “flying object (飛翔体)” could make a dent in the euphoria of a gorgeous hanami (cherry blossom viewing) weekend. Set on getting their annual hanami fix for the year and having had enough of the news, people barely glanced at the extras that were handed out several hours after the first booster had dropped in the Sea of Japan.

Daily Yomiuri Extra at Ueno Park by ripplet.jp

Daily Yomiuri Extra at Ueno Park by ripplet.jp

Former diplomat Naoto Amaki puts it this way:

メディアは北朝鮮ミサイル発射問題一色だ。果たして国民はそのニュースをどこまで詳しくフォローしているのだろうか。

 毎日の勤労に疲弊している国民の多くは、洪水のように溢れる新聞やテレビの報道を深く読んでいる暇はないだろう。

 しかしそれでよいのだ。どれもこれも同じようなニュースばかりだ。やっぱり発射した。でも何も起こらなかった。よかった。日本政府は何もできなかった。でも関係者にはご苦労様だった。それにしても北朝鮮はとんでもない国だ。国際社会はこれを許してはいけない・・・これでいいのだ。

The media was all over this North Korean missile launch, but how many people actually follow this news in depth?

Exhausted from everyday work, the Japanese just don't have the time to digest the torrent of information that we get from newspapers and television shows.

However, that's fine and the way things should be. All of the news that's being reported is the same. North Korea launched something. Nothing happened. Good! The Japanese government couldn't do anything. To everybody involved, thanks for all your trouble. North Korea is being it's usual provocative self! The international community is outraged and fulminates against this latest incident. So, business as usual?…that's fine and that's the way it should be.

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