1. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Web-driven Social Activism in Japan

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Journalism and Society class.

    Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN)
    As more people become constantly connected online through computers and mobile devices in the last few years, more social demonstrations and protests have been organized and done all over the world with the help of the Internet. The situation is the same in Japan. There have been many social demonstrations and protests organized with the help of various social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Nico Nico Douga (a Japanese video-sharing site), IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and 2channel (the Japan's biggest bulletin board site). Japanese web-driven activism has its unique characteristics. Participants tend to hide their real identities and keep anonymous while participating in protests and activities. Japanese tendency to be anonymous online is often pointed out in earlier study (Bovee and Cvitkovic, and McLelland), but has not examined yet in detail with the recent demonstrations and the uses of social networking services. In this paper, I would like to examine how the recent web-driven social activism has been operated on different web platforms and services in Japan, and finally show how anonymity plays an important role in the Japanese demonstrations and protests.

    Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN)
    There were roughly four notable web-driven social protests and activities occurred in 2012 in Japan. One of them that drew most media attention was the anti-nuclear demonstration held in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo. It was organized by a group called Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN). It started in March 2012 and continued weekly since then. The number of participants has, however, decreased from 21,000 at a maximum to several hundreds today (estimated by police. "Anti-nuke Protests"). At their peak, they even had an official 30-minute interview with the then Prime Minister Noda in the Office (Nakanishi). There are several characteristics that are particular to MCAN. One of them is that they are a single-issue group. Their only purpose is to stop all the nuclear power plants in Japan. The group leader banned the participants to claim other political issues during the protests. The other interesting point is that they mainly use Twitter and Facebook for announcements ("First Anniversary"). It was these social networking services that increased the number of participants from 300 at first to "200,000" at its peak (according to MCAN. "Anti-nuke Protests"). Another point is that only a very small number of individuals have identified themselves in the group. On the top of their website, there is a list of anti-nuclear groups that join MCAN. It makes sense since they call themselves "a network, not a group," but there is no individual name on the list other than the name "voluntary individuals" ("Sanka Gurupu" All translation mine) added at the end. Regarding the protesters, the organizer does not know who they are since the MCAN's messages are retweeted again and again on Twitter. People usually participate in the protests without telling their true identities (some even wear masks to cover their faces). Even the representative of the group, Misao Redwolf, does not reveal her real name. Still, many participants show their faces and protest even in front of TV crews. Overall, the organizer and participants seem to conceal their individual identities, whereas the demonstration itself is quite visible from the outside.

    Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Zaitokukai)
    The other notable demonstration that drew the media attention recently is anti-Korean protests that have been done since 2012 at Shinokubo in Tokyo. It was organized by an ultranationalist group called Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Citizen Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan), also known as Zaitokukai. Their hate speeches such as "Kill Koreans!" and "Get rid of the cockroaches from Japan!" were so aggressive and racist that they often had conflicts with the local Korean residents ("Arita Appeals"). They have also made racist insults against other foreigners including Chinese and the Westerners. They started their activities in 2007 and now have 9,000 members. They have local branches all over Japan and routinely hold small-scale demonstrations (Fackler). One of the interesting points of this group's activities is that they use videos to show their performances on YouTube and Nico Nico Douga and appeal to their viewers effectively on the web. They shoot several videos on each demonstration they do and upload them on these sites regularly so that they can get more supporters through these sites. They are said to be strongly supported by netouyo, the Net far-right group known as anti-Korean and Chinese. Their demonstration videos are popular enough to go to the upper part of the video chart in the politics category on Nico Nico Douga, which is the Japan's largest video-sharing site with more than 30 million registered users. Since the site has its own unique streaming comments function in which the other users' comments go from right to left on the screen while watching. The viewer feels as if he or she is watching a live video together with the other viewers. The comments are short and quick to fade out, and most of them are shouts and agitations. Unlike those on YouTube, it is rare to find calm and rational comments that can be developed into a productive discussion. Instead, watching the aggressive attacks of the protesters in the video with hundreds of hateful comments overlapped on it is so visually impressive that the viewer feels as if he or she were in the same heat with the protesters and other viewers. This pseudo live-experience on Nico Nico Douga is the key driving force for Zaitokukai to gain today's popularity on the web.

    Makoto Sakurai
    The other interesting point of Zaitokukai's activities is that like MCAN, the members do not identify themselves in public. Even the founder and representative of the group Makoto Sakurai (which is not his real name) does not reveal his own identity. At their demonstrations, many participants wear sunglasses and masks during the march in order not to identify themselves. They are also a single-issue group like MCAN and do not have a concrete ideology such as the Nazi's racial supremacy theory. They are loosely connected through the Internet and get together only for the demonstrations (Fackler). The web supporters who watch the group's videos on Nico Nico Douga are even more anonymous. They do not reveal their names either since a viewer cannot trace the comments back to the original posters. Even if he or she can, almost no user uses his or her real name on Nico Nico Douga and does not use his or her face-photo icon, either. Overall, it can be said that the protesters are present in the real world just like the MCAN participants, but hide their true identities more than the anti-nuke protesters do. The supporters are more invisible than those of MCAN since Facebook and Twitter that the MCAN supporters often use for spreading information are more identity-oriented and less anonymous than Nico Nico Douga.

    Inarguably, the most notorious and aggressive web-based activism in Japan today is Kijo group that bases on particular threads on 2channel. 2channel (also known as 2chan) is "the biggest BBS in the world" (Katayama) with 2-3 million comments posted a day on more than 800 active boards (Suzume graph). The estimated number of the active users of the site is between 12 and 16 million (Matsutani). There are a variety of boards on any kind of topic that one can think of, even on harmful and illegal topics such as murders, weapons, drugs, and poison. Due to the size of the site, some boards are chaotic and become a lawless area so that the threads are filled with illegal drug deals, prostitution ads, gun sales, and even death threats. However, the distinctive feature of this site is that all the messages can be posted totally anonymously without any registration. Although the IP address can be detected and shown to the police by request in the worst cases such as a death threat (open proxies are banned from posting on 2channel), all the comments are posted under the name of "anonymous." On the other hand, since the posters can hide their real identities, they tend to confess their true feelings more and often leak their company's secret information on the boards. In essence, 2channel works as the outlet of complaints and angers accumulated in the society. This is especially true in Japan where people have to say tatemae (public statement) and honne (personal feeling) separately in their daily communication with others. Although the boards are full of slander, hate speeches, and defamation and 99.9% of the comments are useless, "an excellent source of information" (Matsutani) can be found here. That is why news organizations follow 2channel closely to find news sources and see the public mood (Onishi and CNN).

    Kijo threads on 2channel
    Among the huge numbers of the threads on 2channel, the Kijo threads are known as the most fearful and aggressive ones. Kijo is an abbreviation for kikon josei, which means married women in Japanese. The threads were originally made for married women to chat about their daily topics. The direction on the top of the threads clearly says that the threads are only for married women and others cannot post any comments there. What actually happens on these threads is that the posters intensively dig up the personal information of an ordinary person or celebrity in the latest news and reveal it on the threads. They have such excellent searching skills both on the web and in the real world that they disclose any kinds of personal information including the person's photo, address, school/company's name, phone number, and email address. They reveal the person's family information as well. They sometimes go to the related locations and upload photos. At the same time, they encourage other viewers to make phone calls and send emails to the person's school or company as well as asking to report the event to police and authorities. They continue to reveal the information until the person shuts down his or her blog, and deletes his or her Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. In the worst case, the targeted person often has to change his or her school and workplace because of these attacks. For example, several jr.-high school students, who bullied their classmate to death in Shiga prefecture in 2011, were set as targets by the Kijo group since media did not report their names (because they were minors) and the school committee did not investigate the case at first. In this case, all the personal information of the students, their family members, and the class teacher were disclosed on the threads. Most of them finally had to move and change their schools ("Student Suicide"). This is typically how the person on a target is crucified on the Kijo threads.

    Kijo threads' icon
    The Kijo group is different from the MCAN and Zaitokukai cases in the point that they do not show themselves in the real world or on the web at all. Their real identities are hard to trace. It is doubtful that they are actually married women even though their comments sound very feminine. According to a survey done by an Internet survey company, the estimated active users on the Kijo threads who spend more than two hours per month are about 16,000, but married women account only for 36% of the total. Single women account for 16% and the rest are probably men in their 30s and 40s (Yamamoto). Since their postings cannot be identified with particular individuals, there is little community feeling (McLelland 822). In a word, they emerge as a collective unconsciousness on the web that searches for a target to hang up.

    Among all the recent big web-driven activism in the world, the most famous one is definitely the protests done by a hacker group called Anonymous. They usually use IRC to discuss issues and communicate with others. They have a strong link to Japan. Christopher Poole adopted the 2channel system and made the same anonymous BBS called 4chan in 2003, on which the Anonymous was originally formed. They had also attacked and crashed authorities' and companies' servers in Japan in June 2012 due to the protest against the new laws that ban illegal downloading. While this was done by the AnonOps (the mainstream of Anonymous), the OpJapan (a Japanese branch of the group) took a different approach to the issue. They did a cleanup activity in Tokyo wearing a suit and Guy Fawkes' mask without saying anything or holding placards. On July 7th, 2012, about 50 Anonymous members gathered, picked up garbage, and handed out leaflets that explain why they were doing so to the passerby ("Dos and Don'ts").

    Anonymous Cleaning Service in Shibuya
    Although they call the activity "off-meeting, not a protest" ("Dos and Don'ts"), this protest style is very different from those of the other groups mentioned above. First of all, they identified themselves as the members of Anonymous and showed themselves in the real world with Anonymous characteristics. Unlike the MCAN and Zaitokukai demonstrators, they strongly presented themselves as a character so that they can keep their clear online identity while hiding their individual ones. On their website, they listed detailed directions and rules for the participants such as "Act politely" and "Don't do any activities that go against the laws" ("Dos and Don'ts." Translation mine). The event was vastly reported on more than 20 news outlets in Japan and the world. It was a well- defined, successful media representation of the group while keeping their true identities anonymous.

    Hierarchical conditions of anonymity
    The four protest styles mentioned above have different degrees of anonymity in their activities, but in all the cases, the participants' real names are not shown. These degrees of online anonymity can be roughly classified into three phases (Bovee and Cvitkovic 42-43). The lowest degree of anonymity can be called visual anonymity, at which the person usually retains some connection to the real self in the society (e.g. email address). The second level is the dissociation of identity, in which the person adopts a new online identity (such as a handle name or graphical avatar). The highest level of anonymity is the total lack of identification. On this level, the person lacks an avatar or any label that would mark him or her as an individual. According to these anonymity classifications, the MCAN protesters can be categorized as the visual anonymity since many of them use Facebook that links the person to his or her real identity. They also show themselves on the street without any disguises. The demonstrators of Zaitokukai can also be categorized in this level since some of them show their faces in the video, but their online supporters who watch their videos and post comments on Nico Nico Douga are on the lack-of-identification level since only their comments are left without any avatars or nicknames (a comment poster's nickname and avatar are traceable on YouTube). The Kijo group on 2channel is surely categorized as the lack-of-identification level since there is nothing but their comments and it is almost impossible to identify them. On the other hand, the OpJapan group of Anonymous is categorized as dissociation of identity since they all have the unique character of Anonymous.

    Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN)
    How do the different degrees of online anonymity affect the formation of the group then? According to the Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE model) on computer-mediated communication (CMC), "the combination of anonymity and group immersion ... or interaction via computer network ... can actually reinforce group salience and conformity to group norms" and "perceive the self and others not as individuals with a range of idiosyncratic characteristics and ways of behaving, but as representatives of social groups or wider social categories" (Postmes T, Spears R, and Lea M 697). Based on this SIDE model, it is very clear that anonymity highly worked for MCAN and Zaitokukai to form and develop their groups to the sizes of today. It can also be inferred that all the four groups strongly believe in their doing something good for ‘social justice.' Another CMC study shows that online anonymity fosters deindividuation and a more impersonal, task-oriented focus (Walter 361). This is also backed by the MCAN strategy that more people could participate in the protests because the events were single-issue rather than multi-issue. The MCAN staff had deliberately removed the protesters who claimed other social and political issues in the demonstrations and declined to change their single issue to wider social problems. They keep themselves away from old left-wing social activist groups, too (Nakanishi). Zaitokukai also does not bring Japanese traditional Shintoism or militarism into their policy like old right-wing groups and represent themselves just as xenophobia (some participants hold Japanese imperial flags during the protests). The Kijo group on 2channel intensively search and attack the target as long as the personal information is there. They immediately vanish when the target is knocked off and there is no more information to dig up. All the examples show that unlike the old social and political activists and protesters in the 60s and 70s, today's Japanese protesters seem to temporarily gather on a single issue and avoid one's activities being seen as a part of one's character or personality by the others in their real lives.

    LDP leader Shinzo Abe
    The point that single-issue protests do not seem to last long or gain popularity in Japan can be examined from another point of view. The fact that the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) won a substantial victory on the Lower House elections in December 2012 shows that even the MCAN, which once had more than 20,000 people in the protest, could not have enough influential power on the public to bring its issue to politics because the LDP is the only party that did not insist on anti-nuclear policy during the election campaign (all the other parties that claimed anti-nuclear drastically lost their seats). Zaitokukai, Kijo group, and Anonymous still cannot gain broad support from the public in Japan and are just seen as evil in the digital era. These cases suggest that their online anonymity kept them from gaining popularity and credibility from the public and developing into the mainstream in Japan.

    Overall, the examples of the recent web-driven activism in Japan mentioned above obviously show that "Japanese seem to prefer greater anonymity online" (Bovee and Cvitkovic 50), but it can also be said that unlike the other big web-driven social movements such as Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street in the world, these activities in Japan would have never occurred through Facebook. This is probably because the site does not allow anonymity and fake identities at all for its users. The huge expansion of 2channel clearly shows that Japanese need a virtual space to let out all the frustrations anonymously that pile up in their stuffed tatemae/honne society.
  2. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Art or Child Porn: Analysis on Japanese and English Media Coverage

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Journalism and Society class.

    Makoto Aida
    Many artists have battled with social norms throughout history all over the world. Contemporary artists especially shock spectators and question their moral standards in their exhibitions. In January 2013, a Japanese contemporary artist Makoto Aida and the Mori Art Museum, which hosted his art exhibition "Aida Makoto: Monument for Nothing," received a letter of protest from a feminist group saying that his works are child pornography and injure the dignity of women. Both Japanese and the U.S. media reported the news in various ways. In this paper, I would like to examine how the news was reported both in Japanese and English media and show how Japanese and the U.S. legal definitions of child pornography and cultural tendencies may have led to the different types of media coverage on the event as a result.

    Dog series
    The news was simple as follows: Aida, who is known for his erotic and grotesque depictions of young girls, wars, and other controversial subjects, and the Mori Art Museum were protested by a feminist group called People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence (PAPS). The group insisted that his works, especially Dog Series (1996) featuring naked, underage-looking girls leashed like a dog with their limbs dismembered, are "child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation" and such a work "normalizes such discrimination and violence, and actively promotes the sexual exploitation of girls, violence against women, and discrimination and contempt for people with a disability" (PAPS). They asked the museum to remove all the related works, but it refused to do so. Instead, Aida and the museum released an announcement saying that part of the exhibition was hidden behind a black curtain and restricted to visitors 18 years old or older with caution. The exhibition is now being held and there have not been any other protests.

    Various media outlets have reported the news differently including mainstream news papers and foreign press. Japanese mainstream media such as Daily Yomiuri Online (reported in English), Mainichi.jp (deleted), and Sankei News covered the protest. It was also listed on the Yahoo News. Mainichi, which is seen rather as liberal in Japanese media, reported the story just in brief, whereas Yomiuri and Sankei, which are often seen as conservative in Japan, covered it in more detail with Aida's artistic career. The Yahoo news was distributed from a legal website called Bengoshi.com, which pointed out that the art pieces are not considered as child pornography from a legal point of view. An alternative online news site such as J Cast News reported it in more detail with Aida's interview and what the Internet users said about it. Japanese news media for foreigners such as Metropolis and The Japan Times had long art reviews in English with several photos of Aida's artworks. Their articles explored why he made them and what their themes were. The international news press such as Bloomberg Businessweek covered the news, which was then quoted by a blogger of The Huffington Post and reported in its Art and Culture section. These are the articles that can be collected on the Internet at this moment.

    Within the limited numbers of the news reports mentioned above, it is fair to say that Japanese media (excluding the ones that reported in English) seem to have reported the story briefly as news, whereas the foreign media (including Japanese ones that reported in English) seem to have reported it as a part of an art review, not merely as news. They are more likely to appreciate Aida's works as art and suggest inspiring comments to the readers. For example, they interpret his works and what they mean to Japanese society like "[His works] depict taboo subjects and also shed light on people's sense of shame" (Daily Yomiuri), "Aida manages to give his paintings a façade of ugliness, inanity and frivolity, while at the same time imbuing them with wit, beauty, irony and pathos" (The Japan Times), and "Pornography is just one of the many devices he employs to provoke the viewer to reexamine everyday aspects of Japanese culture and see what lurks beneath the calm surface" (Businessweek). The blogger of The Huffinton Post even asks the readers to "[s]ee a slide show of the work below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments" (The Huffinton Post). English reporting media is more likely to examine an art event more in depth and offer a controversial point of view for the readers to think about it. In an article of The Japan Times, the writer even analyzes Japanese culture and society through this exhibition ("the painting has ... something to do with Japan's obsession with cuteness – the so-called culture of kawaii") (The Japan Times).

    There are various reasons why the Japanese reporting media just covered the event as news. One of them comes from Japan's poor art-reviewing culture in news media. Usually Japanese mainstream newspapers do not include cultural and art reviews in their weekend editions unlike British and American standard newspapers. Since the Japanese media do not cover an art event in their culture and art sections in depth, an art event is often briefly reported as news. A controversial issue is not likely to be debated on news media outlets, either. Most of all, the main reason that made the issue difficult to debate in news media outlets is the ambiguous definition of the term child pornography in Japan. Under Japan's laws, production, distribution, dissemination, and possession for sale of child pornography depicting children under 18 years of age is a criminal offence since 1999 just like the same laws in other Western countries (except that possession is still legal in Japan). What makes the Japan's child porn laws very different from the other countries', especially those of the U.S., is the ambiguous definition of the term. It is simply written as "arouses or stimulates the viewer's sexual desire." This ambiguity allowed the protest group to call Aida's works "child porn" (PAPS) and made the Japanese media reluctant to go into deeper argument on the issue. The other point that might have made the argument difficult is the fact that vast child pornographic images in Japanese manga and anime are not real and are difficult to certify as child porn. Since the purpose of Japanese child porn laws is to protect junior victims, it is difficult to apply them directly to the anime and manga characters that do not exist in the real world. Even though 86.5% of respondents of a poll are for the regulation of art depicting child porn, the government cannot do so because of the facts mentioned above and also the fear that the laws may infringe the freedom of speech, press, and all other forms of expression. All these arguments on child porn may make Japanese news media hesitate to put in-depth art reviews of the exhibition on their websites.

    On the other hand, the English reporting media had a deeper analysis of the exhibition because they have a clearer distinction between porn and art than Japanese media and also regularly publish art their reviews on their pages. In terms of child pornography in the U.S., child pornography is defined under 18 U.S.C. §1466A and §2252A. The provisions are a little more in detail than those of Japan, but the most contrasting feature is that they have a line saying that an image that "lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" (§1466A) is defined as child pornography. In other words, some artistic pieces are seen as an art piece even though there are some visual elements of sexual abuse of children in it. This is perfectly reasonable and understandable since the provisions may violate the freedom of speech without these exceptions. Hollywood movies such as Traffic and American Beauty could be categorized as child porn and banned if there were no such a clause. The same thing can be said to visual child porn. Actually, the U.S. Government introduced the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law in 2002 for the same reason for the protection of art values. The Government again issued the improved PROTECT Act of 2003 instead, but it still cannot ban all the images that they initially intended to. American media, including Businessweek and The Huffington Post, at least have such a legal background to appreciate and discuss the controversial pieces as art, whereas Japanese media may have hesitated to do so because they have a vague legal boundary between art and child porn although its society is full of such images.

    However, the main issue that both the protest group and the museum focused on was not whether the art pieces are child pornography or not, but whether they could be displayed in a public place such as a museum or not. In the letter of protest, what the group called for is the removal of related works from the exhibition. Aida was well aware of the problem, too and said, "There are some among my works that can't be openly exhibited in public art museums" in his interview posted on the museum website long before he received the letter from the group. He even said, "I had always thought of some of the works to be displayed in the R18 room (like the "Dog" series) as almost certainly too much for an art museum to show openly" and "I wouldn't think of insisting against everyone's better judgment that my more confronting works be hung in such a public arena." He said this especially because young children may be in the audience of the exhibition. These statements show that he shared the same concerns as the protest group from the beginning and finally decided to display some of his works in the restricted area. The focus of the argument is then more on how artistic values and community standards go together, which is not particularly discussed in any media that was mentioned earlier.

    As shown above, English reporting media was more likely to report the art event in a review form to give the readers clues to judge whether it is worth visiting or not, whereas Japanese media rarely offered critical points of views on the event for the readers and just covered it merely as news. This is because Japanese media intends to avoid controversial issues and does not have enough art appreciating practices in its media outlet on a daily basis as a whole. On the other hand, the Japanese media did not really focus on the issue that the protest group and the museum focused on. As The Japan Times' article cited above suggested, it is true that a sense of kawaii, which is often translated as cuteness in English, plays a huge role in people's preference in Japanese society today. There could have been a critical analysis on Japanese society using this term as a key word through the review of the exhibition.
  3. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Representation of Japanese Culture in The Simpsons’ episode

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Journalism and Society class.

    In The Simpsons' episodes, the family traveled to Japan several times and experienced a variety of cultural gaps there. Their experience is depicted with irony and exaggeration, and often become a little too aggressive toward the targeted Japanese and their culture. The episodes clearly show how average American audience perceives Japan and its culture. In this paper, I would like to examine one of The Simpsons' Japanese episodes and analyze how it represents Japanese culture and how its ethnic jokes works for the U.S. audience.

    The Simpsons is well known for its numerous references to the U.S. sub-culture in a single episode. The one titled Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo, which was originally aired on May 16, 1999 in Season 10, is also full of references to Japan and its subculture (the episode's title itself comes from an old movie called Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)). Before the family members bring up any topics regarding Japan at the beginning of the episode, several words that are usually associated with Japan in the U.S. are brought into the story. One of them is a term technology referred by Marge and represented as the form of a Wired magazine that she is reading. The other term is a word monkey referred by Bart saying “I know the Internet that shows monkeys' doing it.” These words seem to coincidentally appear in the scene, but the same topics appear again in the form of an ethnic joke on Japanese just six minutes later. It can be said that the first references to the topics actually forecast the upcoming jokes that relates to the episode's main topic. They become warming up for the audience to imagine about Japan from the title of the episode. On a plane to Tokyo, Bart says, “If we want to see Japanese people, we can just go to the zoo.” It is clearly understood by the audience that he seems to say that Japanese look like a monkey when Lisa says “Homer!” to Bart right after that. Bart then replies to her saying “What? The guy who washes the elephants is Japanese... his name is Takashi... he's in my book club.” Here a typical feature of how The Simpsons deals with offensive jokes in its episodes can be observed. The family members do not actually say the offensive sentence in a word, but make the audience to imagine of it based on the context. Right after the allusion, they usually blame the offensive idea or joke from a politically correct point of view (usually it is done by Lisa and Marge), or say the counter opinion to it. In this case, Lisa corrects the idea and Bart himself shows that the Japanese is a person who has his name, occupation, and intelligence (by labeling him as a book-club member) just like the other people in the U.S., unlike a stereotyped monkey image.

    The same idea-correction right after an offensive joke is also shown later in the episode. At the sumo tournament, Bart throws the Japanese Emperor out of the ring into a box full of sumo thongs and all the Japanese audience in the stadium starts booing. This also clearly shows to the U.S. audience that being rude to the Emperor is very much offensive to ordinary Japanese people (the same kind of an offensive joke on the Japanese Emperor is also shown in the several episodes of South Park, but political correction or a counter opinion to it is never been shown).

    The main topic that is criticized and made fun of most in the episode is cruelty of a Japanese TV game show. The interesting point here is that even though it is about Japanese a TV show, it also becomes a keen critique of TV shows in general in the U.S. In the 2000s, there were many Japanese TV game shows aired in the U.S. They usually featured amateur competitors and had them play cruel games. Takeshi's Castle (2003) is the first one of its kind. There were many others such as Sasuke (American Ninja Warriors) (2006) and Hole in the Wall (2008). There was even an American original program called I Survived a Japanese Game Show (2008) in a reality-TV trend at the time. Before these shows aired in the U.S., the original Japanese shows had been watched on YouTube and became very popular all around the world including the U.S. One of the reasons these shows became a YouTube hit is that most of them are slapstick and did not need any words to understand, but still keep a strong story of the battle. What is remarkable about The Simpsons' episode is that it was aired way before the Japanese TV game show boom started. YouTube (started in 2004) had not launched yet when the episode was aired in 1999 in the U.S. It means that not many Americans had a chance to watch Japanese game shows on TV or the Internet at the time. It also shows that the episode eventually foresaw what came next on TV to the U.S. in the next ten years. At the end of the episode, after having a series of harsh physical challenges and finally receiving tickets to go back to Springfield, Bart says to a Japanese TV host as he leaves the stage as a competitor, “Game shows aren't about cruelty. They are about greed and wonderful prizes ... but somewhere along the line, you lost your way. What a shame.” Right after this line, Bart watches the same show on TV in a waiting room and laughs at a Canadian couple in the show saying “Lovely show.” This part is added in order to show Bart's (and also ordinary TV audience's) ambivalent personality and to balance the tone of the episode not to become too preachy. However, his comment directly points out the moral issue of a TV game show that asks the audience if they really want to watch the devastating competitors and laugh at them.

    In the same way, all the Japanese images that appear numerously during the episode are in fact not laughed at by the Simpson's family. Rather, the images are used to make fun of the Simpsons' reactions to Japanese culture. Moreover, all the Japanese images are more likely to be distorted and fake ones that are often appeared in the U.S. media at the time. This can be pointed out by counting a number of monsters shown in the episode including Godzilla, Rodan, Mosura, Ghidorah, and Gamera, all of which were once popular in the U.S. They also show robotic anime program called “Battling Seizure Robots” (which also indicates Pokemon) on the TV in a hotel room and Hello Kitty factory from the window with a lot of meaningless Japanese characters all through the story. The Simpsons encounter the stereotyped American figures as well including Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Statue of Liberty, and a sheriff's golden badge in a restaurant called America Town. Here they also see stereotyped images of the U.S. and hear many ironic jokes about their culture from a Japanese waiter. In a sense, what the U.S. audience sees about Japanese culture in the episode is paralleled with the stereotyped images that Simpsons encounter in Japan. This paralleled structure of gazing at a different culture may lead some audiences to see the wider media situation from a more distant point of view and think about the media bias existing both in Japan and the U.S.

    Overall, The Simpsons has many offensive jokes in its episodes, but they usually deny the idea behind them or add countering ideas. Furthermore, the family clearly shows a similar situation of a typical American audience surrounded by the biased media by referring to a variety of knowledge that they may receive from TV, which is the moment when “Parody encourages viewers to reflect upon media messages and structures” (Gray 236). The Simpsons even “invites the viewer beyond its cutout world to give critical consideration to the way society and the media engage ethnic prejudice” (Sienkiewicz and Nick Marx 17) to a certain degree. After all, what parody shows is the mere reflection of the viewers themselves.
  4. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Structural Analysis of Ozu’s Good Morning

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Classical Japanese Cinema class.

    Good Morning
    Good Morning (Ohayo) is Ozu Yasujiro's second color film made in 1959 nearly at the end of his career. He is also credited as the scriptwriter in this film with Noda Kogo. In 1983, a critic/scholar of French literature Hasumi Shigehiko wrote a book about him and his films. Unlike the title Director Ozu Yasujiro which sounds like a biography of Ozu, what Hasumi actually did in the book was to trace the thematic elements in detail in all the Ozu films and find out the new characteristic of the films that had never been pointed out before. Unfortunately, although Hasumi occasionally refers to the film title, he does not write much about Good Morning in his book. In this paper, I would like to analyze the narrative structure of Good Morning more in detail using Hasumi's and Roland Barthes' theoretical terms of narratology, and illustrate the rich narratological structure of the film.

    Director Ozu Yasujiro
    Before exploring the film, I would like to briefly explain what Hasumi actually sees in Ozu's films and what kind of concepts he uses in his analysis. He avoids going into auteurism and analyzes the films based on his “film experience” in order to “touch cinema in its rawness.” More specifically, he says that it is to notice several elements that co-exist and become pluralized at the same time on a segment of the film, which thus form the rich significative field on the screen. According to him, the beauty of Ozu's films lie in these co-existence of multiple stories. To illustrate his point, Hasumi uses two terms: a narratological structure and a thematic system. The former is not “the stories that link the scenes in individual works,” but “the synthesizing force that fuses the oppositional and heterogeneous into a single unity without excluding anything.” The latter term is, on the other hand, defined as “the expressions in significant detail that transcend the successive chain of sequences and intersect with each other in the realm that is different from the chronological order.” These two terms are mainly applied to analyze Ozu's films in his book.

    Roland Barthes
    I would also like to define two more narratological terms that are to be used in my analysis since Hasumi's two terms mentioned above are not enough for a single film analysis. One of them is what Barthes calls “the mainspring of the narrative activity” or “logical time,” which “prevail ...the apparent fracturing of units being still closely subordinated to the logic which binds together the nuclei of the sequence.” In a film, a story unfolds with the function of narrative. Suspense and mystery are the perfect examples of this. As we will see the examples later in the film, they are “a way of gambling with structure, with the ultimate goal being, as it were, to risk and to glorify the structure. Hasumi uses the term “narratological sustention, in the similar way. The other technical term I would like to use is ‘discourse' in the film. This simply means the topics the characters in the film talk about. At least these four terms need to be clarified before analyzing the film.

    A scene from Good Morning
    As Hasumi points out as the general characteristic of Ozu's films, Good Morning does not have dramatic elements in the story. Only daily lives of six lower middle-class families living in Kawasaki in the late 1950s are depicted in detail. Daily situations including going to school, sewing at home, and drinking at a bar are repeatedly depicted in the film. There are a few, small mysteries for the spectators that develop the story such as missing of a collected due among the wives. This mystery is, however, to be solved soon within ten minutes in the film. There are some other small mysteries for each character (e.g. Harada's wife does not know why Hayashi's children do not talk to her), but they are not shown as a mystery at all for the spectators since the reasons are shown earlier in the film. There is also a little adventure of a boy Zenichi who tries to escape from his room to the neighbor house to watch TV, but still it shortly ends. All the mysteries and adventure in the film do not have enough length and strength to draw the spectators' interest toward the resolution. Comparatively the most dramatic events in the film are the disappearance of two Hayashi's brothers Makoto and Isamu, and the day of a new TV set coming to their house that both occur at the end. These events are received as a surprise for the spectators simply because how the characters came to the consequence are not shown in the film at all. The questions of where to go by the two brothers and what to buy from a home-electronics salesperson next door by their parents are being suspended in the film for a while until the end. In this way, these seemingly small and less-dramatic events are shown with more surprise to the audience.

    A scene from Good Morning
    What is shown instead of mystery and adventure in the film is the conflicts and reconciliation among the members of six families living in a small neighborhood. Their interwoven relationships between each other are gradually introduced to the spectators with the topics they talk about. Taking a pumice stone and farting are the topics that are talked about among the children, Heiichiro (their English teacher), and Tomizawa's husband in the different place and time. A TV issue is discussed in more groups among the children and mothers at their houses, and the fathers at the bar. A retirement issue discussed in the bar is later raised again at Hayashis. All these discourses spreading among the characters rarely unfold the story, but show the relationships between them and set the characteristic of each character. This can be only done with the situation that the telephone was not available at home so that people had to convey their messages by word of mouth (In Japan, a telephone became available at home in the 1970s). Sometimes a topic is discussed so intensively that the characters are caught up by it. The discourse of unnecessary greetings made by adults, which Minoru brings up in criticizing the way adults greet each other, is a typical example of it. The discussion over the issue actually put Minoru and Isamu into the battle with their parents and Heiichiro to reveal his hidden intimate feeling for Setsuko to his sister.

    A scene from Good Morning
    The narratological structure that Hasumi sees in Ozu's films can be found in the conflict and reconciliation that the discourse creates among the characters. The spectators finally know the conflict that the brothers had with others has been dissolved by seeing them saying “Good morning” to their parents and neighbors. This “movement towards the unification of oppositions” is what Hasumi calls “the true narrative of Ozu.” These conflict and reconciliation process can also be seen among the other characters. For example, two different salesmen visit the families while the wives are at home. The hard-sell salesman visits each house first and does coercive sales to the wives. After a while, the other gentle-looking salesman comes to each door and tries to sell them an emergency bell that can scare the hard-sell salesmen away. The later scene at the bar shows that the two salesmen actually worked as a pair and the first one threatened the wives so that they are more likely to buy the emergency bell from the second salesman. The point is that both drink at the same small bar with the wives' husbands. In there, they are depicted as the workers who finish their work at the end of the day and are having a drink. Here the conflict between the wives and salesmen is canceled out and neutralized. The first characteristic of the salesmen are changed and the conflict no longer exists. Such “unifying movements through sites of co-existence, where affirmed together” is the Ozu's “narratological structure” that can be also found in Good Morning.

    A scene from Good Morning
    What Hasumi sees as another beautiful characteristic of Ozu's films, which he describes as “the thematic systems,” can be found in the juxtaposition of the characters in the film. According to him, something new starts when two intimate characters stand next to each other and look at the same object in the same direction in Ozu's films. At this moment, without seeing each other and saying anything, they show a sympathetic feeling shared between them. This is what he calls the “Ozu's lyricism” and it is sometimes enough to show it just to repeat the other's gesture. These scenes can be found at the end of Good Morning when Heiichiro and Setsuko are standing next to each other at a platform and looking at clouds in the sky. While waiting for a train, they both look at the clouds and talk to each other. What is actually done here is that Setsuko just repeats what Heiichiro says about the weather and the shapes of the clouds they are looking at. The spectators definitely see their intimate feelings toward each other and notice the beginning of their new relationship in the near future. This is a perfect example of juxtaposition that clearly characterizes Ozu's films.

    Ozu Yasujiro
    What Hasumi calls as “the excessive details” that inevitably draw the spectator's attention, however, can only be pointed out when they are compared with other Ozu's films and found the similarity between them. The element that the spectators surely notice in Good Morning is the “strange space” that emerges when the two characters face to each other without catching each other's eyes. Ignoring the principle of imaginary line is often referred to as one of Ozu's cinematic characteristics. Hasumi says that their gazes do not seem to meet but pass parallel to each other. He also points out that Ozu did not pay any attention to the principle and instead interprets it as a cinematic effect that the spectators may become uneasy when they see the character in the film looks like staring at them. According to him, that's when they have a sense of urgency that the film is no longer considered as a film. This moment of breaking ‘the forth wall' by the character's gaze often appears in Good Morning. If examined more in detail, however, most characters' gazes do not go straight to the spectators' eyes outside of the screen. In many cases, they look slightly up or down toward the camera. Sometimes they look straight to it, but it is obvious from the context that they are talking to the person in front of them in the film and is more natural for the spectators to regard the scene as so. Hasumi also points out that Japanese do not look into other's eyes as often and relentless as the characters do in Ozu's films, but at least most characters in Good Morning actually avert their gazes within a few seconds.

    A scene from Good Morning
    What may make the spectators more uneasy in the film instead is that the character does not say anything and just acts even though no one in the world of the film watches his act. The little brother Isamu is the one who does this incomprehensible action. In the middle of the film after Okubo's husband showed up at the entrance of Hayashi's house by mistake and left, the boy, who is going back to his room on the hall way, suddenly turns to the camera and pumps his fists into the air as if he had fought with the intruder and defended his family. He then walks a half way through, but again suddenly turns to the camera jumping and spreading his arms wide. He looks very cute and his inarticulate excitement is adequately expressed in this scene, but the question about whom he acted for may remain in the spectators' minds. Since his mother has already gone to the kitchen, there is no one to watch his acts in the hall way. The scene is hard for the spectators to interpret. They may laugh at the boy's cute action and may not think much about what his acts were for. This can be called as the moment when the film no longer presents the fictional world in a film and the character directly tries to interact with the spectators, which may expose the limit of a film to them as Hasumi suggests.

    As discussed above, all the characters are intricately arranged in the film in order to show the relations to each other in detail through different kinds of discourses they share. Dramatic elements that drive the story to develop are rarely used here. Instead, the spectators may encounter the uneasy moment that may break the rules of cinema and force them to realize their own act of watching the film. With the help of Hasumi's postmodern cinema analysis, we can still take a various hermeneutic approaches to the film and find rich meanings in “the excessive details” of Ozu's films even in the present time after they were produced more than 50 years ago.
  5. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Into the Camp: Theatrical Analysis of Jean Michel Bruyère’s Le Préau d’un Seul

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Theory and Practice of Media Culture class.

    Inside The Camp
    Since 2008, the French artist Jean Michel Bruyère and his group LFKs have held an installation-style theatre called Le Préau d'un Seul various times mainly in Europe. In 2012, they had their performance as a part of the program of a performing art festival in Tokyo. The idea of this performance originally came up with the fact that more than 37,000 illegal immigrants are interned in more than 300 internment camps all over Europe today. Since the Tokyo performance was cut off from its cultural and historical context of the original performance, it may have had a different meaning for the Japanese audience. In this paper, I would like to review their performance through my own theatrical experience and analyze what it meant to do the performance in today's Tokyo with the help of a French postmodernist Jean-François Lyotard's theory.

    Portrait of the artist
    Jean Michel Bruyère is known as a mysterious modern artist. He is known also as a stage and movie director, photographer, and graphic artist. His face photo is not shown either on the festival nor his official websites. He has done various kinds of collective art projects with the group called LFKs which consists of professionals including poets, actors, composers, philosophers, ethnologists and doctors. He even puts a fake biography on his website claiming that he was a past figure in the early 20th century and underwent a sex change and became a woman named Jana Tésárová (Biography). These tricky ways of his authorial representation clearly show that he tries to keep the attention off himself and refuse any kinds of auteurism. What he tries to do here is to draw more attention to the subjects and topics that his artworks suggest, especially the contemporary social issues that are hardly seen but do exist in today's society. One of them is an internment camp issue in Europe today. In his short essay titled "A New Camp in the Coming Age," he claims that "a new type of camp should be created; one that retains basic human rights" ( my translation). The performance's title Le Préau d'un Seul (the Courtyard of One) symbolically suggests the internee's helpless situation in the cell at the camp. It clearly shows that depriving of one's human rights and freedom is his primary concern and the performance more or less reflected his political thought and stance.

    Inside the Gym
    Bruyère and his group had then turned the actual camp situation into a form of performing art. In the Tokyo performance, whole classrooms in an old school building and a playground were used as the exhibition site. There were at least eleven installations and performances being held at different rooms and areas. Each of them represented or abstracted the elements of the internees at the camp and the camp itself. Some of them were quite obvious in representation, but the others made the spectators think what they really meant. For example, in the installation room titled La Bascule (the scale), all the photos hung on the wall and the video shown at the corner of the room showed the actual scenes of repatriations that were held in France. Also a big, old canoe standing in the middle of the room, which was actually used for smuggling, was displayed as historical evidence of illegal immigrants. Only the light tone of a whistling tune (a French martial song) heard in the room made the materials look less tragic. On this phase, the objects were merely displayed as they were and the spectators only had to know the facts. There was little space for their imagination and free association to cut in and appreciate the pieces since the objects were too real and concrete.

    Egging on Room
    In the next phase, some parts of the internment camp motif became more abstract and were presented not as facts but as a modified art pieces and performances. At the same time, some historical materials were still used as a prop to make the exhibition look more realistic and focused. For example, in the room called Egging on Room, a few hundred eggs were regularly aligned in cabinets, while the text titled Instruction for Alienating Foreigners by Air under Irregular Circumstances, which was released by the Border Police of France, was read by the performer. In other small rooms called The Camp, miniatures of the internment camps, which were made with white plastics, were displayed in order while the speech by an American Black Panther Party activist was being played on the tape recorder. The former gave the spectators the impression that the room was full of repressive discourses of the law enforcers, whereas the latter made the room filled with anger against them as an effect. In both cases, there was a little space for the spectators to associate the objects freely with other related issues and topics that they knew. These performances and exhibitions were designed to function as the mental preparation for spectators to get more involved in the later performances.

    Video shown in the Dark Room
    In the next phase, the spectators were arranged to watch the highly abstracted performers as the others. In the room called Dance Floor, several monster-like performers, whose bodies were completely covered with white strips from the head to the toes, were just dancing to music without saying anything. The important point here is that they did not even threaten nor try to interact with the spectators. From the spectator's point of view, they looked totally strange since the spectator could no recognize their faces, genders, skin colors, and ages at all. As a result, they were seen as complete strangers to the spectators. It can be said that in France, the performers might have been seen as French majority's mental image of the foreign immigrants that were recognized as incomprehensible others for them, but the spectators in Tokyo could associate them freely with other issues they could imagine because of their unidentifiable appearance. The same thing can also be said to the exhibition shown in the next classroom called Dark Room. In there, a parody video was being played in front of the spectators. In the video, the monster-like performers acted as if they were the characters of an American TV soap opera The Young and the Restless. Their voices, situation, speeches and actions were same as the original drama. Only their appearances were different. This video strongly suggested that even though they speak and act like the Westerners, their appearances will never change and be recognized as ours from the Western point of view. In a sense, these two performances put the spectators in the position of a distant observer who differentiates oneself from the unidentifiable others.

    White monster costume
    Before going to the main theatrical experience inside the Tent, there was an installation arranged for the spectators to literally experience the others. The dark room called Fitting Room was located before the gym in which the Tent was installed. In this room, the spectators could wear the monster-like costume (a wig, a costume, and a pair of shoes that were all covered with white strips). Only three people could enter the room at the same time. In there, one could see oneself in the monster costume in the mirror. The floor carpet was made of cow's dried turd. This installation actually let the spectators put themselves in the others' position in the uncomfortable environment. At this point, they had experienced both our and others' points of view toward the internees in the camp.

    Repatriating ceremony in the Tent
    The most interesting performance at the site was being held in the Tent in the gym. Several performers, who were covered with white surgical costumes, put a thin, black male in a straitjacket, carried him over their shoulders to the outside, and tied him to the apparatus set in the middle of the courtyard. They had repeated this performance again and again for a whole day. The spectators also found the sign in English near the apparatus saying "Please do not feed the foreigner." This ritual performance by the LFK members apparently symbolized the repatriating process. Before entering the Tent, the spectators saw the big sign on it saying "Choose a camp." At this point, they had already experienced the camp situation as the insider and outsider. What was instructed next in the Tent is to be asked to participate in the repatriating act by witnessing the live performance from a close distance. The sign forced them to prepare for the actuality that inevitably involved them into the event even if they did not actively participate in it (they could not go to the next installation without walking by the performance). Being asked to take off one's shoes and be quiet in the Tent made them feel that they were actually in part of the ongoing ritual process. The spectators' theatrical experience at the entire site basically ended at the height of this repatriating performance.


    Repatriation in the school yard
    The purpose and meaning of the whole performance can be explored by referring to what Bruyère said in his interview. He said that the entire performance was designed to have the spectators to get involved in and think about the basic structure that cannot be seen in our daily lives. He also said that he set up the theatrical mode so that the spectators could not leave, avoid, or escape from it. As seen above, all the performances were designed not to show how the internment camps really are and address the issue, but to have the spectators experience the issue with minimum explanation. This artistic method shows how art is different from activism and demonstration. In his interview, Bruyère, who was once an activist himself, said that he and his team have never tried to represent the minority group in the society by playing their role in the fiction. Instead, they have tried to make an opportunity for the spectators, most of whom were in majority, to question the way the concept of ‘minority' is used and propagated. As seen above, his installation-style theater was the perfect example to extract the concept of the internment camp issue from the real situation and let the spectators experience it while remaining it in the abstract level and leaving a space for them to freely appreciate it.

    Jean-François Lyotard
    Bruyère's attempt to question the usage of `minority' concept also means to question the legitimation of majority and administration that categorizes the minority as so. This was also done in his performance by using the characteristics of science and technology. What was most characterized in the Tent is that all the performers (except the black male who played the internee) wore white surgical coats with white caps, masks and gloves. There were surgical beds and carts as well. Surgical appliances, bandages, and cotton were also there on the desk. X-ray photographs were shown on a PC monitor. All these mise-en-scène implied that the repatriating process proceeded by the performers were based on medical evidence and system which was scientifically seen as correct. These scientific features shown in the performance first seemed a bit odd since medical disguise seemed to be noting to do with the repatriation. It is usually handled by political administration, not by surgical operators. However, the spectators must have become aware that the legitimating power of medical characteristics was being used to justify their seemingly inhuman act. A French postmodernist Jean-François Lyotard wrote about the legitimation of scientific discourse and how it was used by legislators. According to him, "The question of the legitimacy of science has been indissociably linked to that of the legitimation of the legislator since the time of Plato […] [T]here is a strict interlinkage between the kind of language called science and the kind called ethics and politics: they both stem from the same perspective, the same "choice" if you will – the choice called the Occident" (The Postmodern Condition). Though the performance was played without any words, it obviously used tons of medical connotations as a whole to enhance the legitimated atmosphere in the Tent.

    "Choose a camp" sign on the Tent
    The art pieces that the spectators would encounter right after they got out of the Tent were a huge robotic arm which was automatically drawing something on the white sheet on the floor with blood-like ink, and the hospital beds lined up in a row which also kept folding and unfolding by themselves. Beside them, there was a pile of TV monitors that only showed vague images. All these artworks suggested that machines could keep working by themselves without any human help. They might have further implied that technology can replace human jobs (actually, they showed nonsense and insanity of it by letting the machines doing meaningless acts). Regarding technology, Lyotard also pointed out that technology often works to strengthen the legislator's legitimation. He wrote, "By reinforcing technology, one "reinforces" reality, and one's chances of being just and right increase accordingly." Bruyère's attempt was, in a way, to question the legitimating power that is often disguised in scientific and technological discourses. What he did to the spectators, especially when he asked them to "Choose a camp" before entering into the Tent, was what Lyotard called "a language game" or "the game of inquiry" that "immediately positions the person who asks, as well as the addressee and the referent asked about." In this sense, this installation-style theater was very strategic and can be also called very postmodern.

    Concentration camp miniatures
    Finally, what it meant for the performance to be held in Tokyo should be examined since the internment issue does not seem to exist in today's Japan. There is a similar social issue that the Japanese spectators might have associated with the term `internment camp': a daiyou kangoku (substitute prison) issue. It is a detention cell in a police station where prosecutors can request as long as 28 days' detention of the suspect without giving any permission to leave under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Since this long detention limits the suspect's basic human rights and often became the cause of false accusation, it has been criticized even by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (IRTF). However, this could have hardly been imagined by the performance since the detainee in the substitute prison can be any one of us and is not usually seen as an incomprehensible other like that in France. The internment camp issue does exist in Japan, though. Since Japan has strict immigration laws and rarely certifies the applicants as refugees, the policy actually has led many foreigners who are seeking asylum to be detained in Tokyo Immigration Detention Center for a long period (IRTF). Still the issue is so minor in Japan that most spectators may not have thought of it. It might have been different if there was some information about the internment issue in Japan as well at the site (or at least on the brochure). Due to the different internment camp situation in Japan, it can be said that most Japanese spectators may have not associated the issue with theirs.

    Blackboard in the Political Bureau
    The other point that may not have worked for the Japanese spectators to understand the performance is a translation issue. There was a room called Political Bureau at the site. There the performers typed out their thought mainly in French, and handwrote them on big banners. They were later posted up on the fence in the courtyard. The problem here is that the Japanese spectators could not understand what the messages said. There was a small space by the window on the third floor of the building where the Japanese translation of the messages could be read, but that did not help the spectators to feel the impact of the messages when they actually saw the banners in the courtyard (at least there should have been the translation under the banners). In the same way, the sign "Choose a camp" on the Tent may have also received as the message written by foreigners (not us). These language barriers definitely made the installations and performances look more exotic and may not have made the Japanese spectators evoke the similar real situation in their minds. Over all, for the Japanese spectators, the whole installations and performances may have been seen from the outsider's point of view and the performers in both the monstrous and surgical costumes may have been recognized as others for them probably because the performers were both dressed up in white costumes and hid their national and racial identities.

    Even though there may have been a cultural gap, Bruyère's attempt to let the spectators experience the internment camp issue was definitely successful to a certain degree. Unlike other art exhibitions, his installation-style theater was designed like an amusement attraction (e.g. a haunted house) so that the visitors could get involved in the installations and performances with great interest. After going through all of them, the visitors may have finally recognized at the exit of the site that what the title of the exhibition, Le Préau d'un Seul (the Courtyard of One), suggested was the desperate feeling of an internee in a camp located somewhere in the world today who is a victim of legitimating power. Even though the cultural background was very different from that in France, the Japanese spectators must have recognized at least this point.
  6. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Concert Review of Super Orchestra 2012

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Exploring Music class.

    Kioi Hall
    I went to a classical concert on November 18, 2012 that was held at the Kioi Hall in Yotsuya, Tokyo. It was designed for classical music beginners including teens and young children who were not familiar with classical music. The orchestra played six pieces in total including the two played as encore pieces. Half of them were classical pieces and the other half were the orchestral versions of a movie soundtrack and a TV commercial. In the following paper, I would like to report more in detail about the program and performance, and also discuss what it meant to me, who is still a beginner.

    The concert was hosted by the conductor Yukihito Kobayashi, who was the vice-conductor for the Shin-Kokuritsu Theater and also the chorus conductor for the Tokyo Philharmonic and Tokyo Symphony Orchestras. He has held concerts every year since 2009 with amateur musicians as well as a few professionals. The ticket only cost 1,000 yen per adult and he had to ask the audience to donate at the end of the event.

    Kioi Hall
    The big hall, which can hold 800 people, was almost full. Among the audience, there were not only many young children and teens, but also many adults. There was an infant who cried at times. His mother had to bring him outside of the hall every time he got cranky, which might have been very unusual for an ordinary classic concert. I sat the six or seven rows from the front on the right side so that I could watch the performance clearly. As a result, I could hear the sounds of the orchestra members turning the pages of their scores and their fiddle sticks hitting the bass strings. This may also have been different from listening classical music on a CD. I had no phone reception inside the hall.

    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No. 4 in B flat major (Op. 60) by Beethoven was played first. This piece was written in 1806 and premiered in the next year. The symphony was scored for a large orchestra including flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, timpani, and strings. The entire impression of the symphony was very different from Symphony No. 5 which I heard in the class. For me, it sounded gentler, not solemn like Symphony No. 5, and more like a piece made in the classical period. The piece is in four movements. Some parts in the first movement were played in 2/2 in the sonata form, which sounded very interesting. The third movement sounded like a scherzo, but I am not sure. It then became very bright unlike Beethoven's other pieces. The last movement was very fast and strong. The performance lasted about 30 minutes in total.

    Benjamin Britten
    The next program was The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra – the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell, Op. 34. It was composed by Benjamin Britten in 1945 originally for an educational documentary film. It is scored mainly to introduce each family of a large orchestra to beginners. The symphony is in four movements in A minor and A major. The theme is initially played by the entire orchestra. Then the woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussions follow. At the end, they all play together again in fugue. There was a narrator beside the conductor to tell the audience about what each family was composed of. I heard the same piece in class, but it sounded very different. This is probably because there was the narrator who made the piece more understandable. It began to sound so strong at last since the percussions were inserted. The performance lasted about 25 minutes.

    Maurice Ravel
    The third piece was Boléro. It is a one-movement orchestral piece in C major originally composed as a ballet by Maurice Ravel in 1928. From the beginning to the end, it repeats the same rhythmic pattern (except the very last two bars). There are only two melodies (A and B). According to the conductor, he chose this piece since it could also show every instrument in the orchestra to the audience. At the end, all the instruments got together and left a strong impression. What was interesting for me is that often the string players play the instruments by picking the strings with their fingers without using bows. I felt that the sound was more varied and heavier than that of The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra although both pieces were played for the same purpose. The performance lasted about 15 minutes.

    My Neighbor Totoro
    The last piece in the program was the soundtrack from a famous Japanese anime My Neighbor Totoro (1988). This piece was rearranged for an orchestra by the Japanese music composer Joe Hisaishi, who also composed the soundtrack for the film. According to him, he rearranged the original music and songs into the orchestral version for children and adults who first listen to classical music. He also said that he used The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra as reference for the rearrangement. The orchestra first played seven different pieces with each family (woodwinds, brass, strings, percussions, and harp + piano at last). Finally all the instruments played the theme of the film. The narrator stood by the conductor and as before and depicted each scene of the film so that the audience could imagine them while listening. There was only one long movement. The piece was targeted toward the child audience. The performance lasted about 20 minutes.

    There were two pieces played as an encore. One was the orchestral version of the soundtrack from a popular TV commercial in Japan. It was called Oriental Wind and also composed by Hisaishi. The other one was another orchestral version of Totoro. This is rearranged by the conductor Kobayashi himself and was much shorter than the one just played before (about 10 minutes each). Both two were in one movement. Although their styles were fairly same as the first Totoro, they sounded more dramatic. I saw that the musicians played the pieces relaxed.

    Overall, the concert perfectly matched my requirement and interest as a classical music beginner. It was probably the first time that I had attended this kind of classical concert since I became an adult. The orchestra seemed to perform very well. The program really helped me to recognize and understand what kind of the instruments an orchestra consists of. Above all, the impact was so strong that I had been drawn to the beautiful melodies they created almost all through the performance. It was an exciting live music experience for me.
  7. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Deciphering a Sequence of A Page of Madness

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Classical Japanese Cinema class.

    Kinugasa Teinosuke's A Page of Madness (1926) is now known as the first avant-garde silent film made in Japan. Besides its unique cinematographic style (no intertitles) and strange story (about a family at a lunatic asylum), it involves various intellectuals in its production including the novelist Kawabata Yasunari in the context of a new literary movement emerging at the time. Above all, the film had been missing for almost half a century. It was found and released to the public again in 1971 though in an incomplete form, which makes the film more difficult to comprehend and appreciate. In this paper, a sequence of the film is to be examined to see how far the narrative of the film can convey the story to the spectators without any sound and intertitles and only with the graphic images by comparing the sequence with the script and other secondary sources.

    Before examining the sequence, I would like to make a few points clear about the film edition and my analytical stand in this paper. For analysis, I use the existing 59-minute edition and consider it as a complete work (according to Mariann Lewinsky, this edition is 500 meters shorter by reel than the original one released in 1926) (Sharp). In order to get a clue for the interpretation of a sequence, I will often refer to the script that Kawabata wrote. Regarding this script, after the first draft was written by him, it had been changed throughout the shooting according to what was actually shot at the studio. After the shooting was done, a few reconstructed the script and Kawabata rewrote it. It was finally published under Kawabata's name with a small note saying that the story was made with the help of three people including the director Kinugasa (Kinugasa 71-72). I'd also like to refer to a secondary source such as Kinugasa's autobiography. I use these materials not as a support to reinforce my interpretation as the director's intention, but as a reference and guide to a possible interpretation that can be drawn out from the present film.

    The Last Laugh
    The main difficulty in interpreting the sequence of the film lies in the style of using no intertitles. This style was strongly suggested by a novelist Yokomitsu Riichi in the same literary group called Shin-kankakuha, to which Kawabata also belonged (Kinugasa 78). Lewinsky points out that a German expressionistic film titled The Last Laugh (1926) by F. W. Murnau, which was also made in the same style and released in Japan while Kinugasa was shooting the film, had also made a strong influence on him since he chose it as his favorite film (Sharp). Since the film does not use any intertitles, the spectators are unable to understand the story by words and are inevitably forced to read the sequences purely consisting of images. At the time that A Page of Madness was first released in 1926, there was a story narrator called benshi at the theater along with a music band, which was quite common for a silent film show at the time. The benshi basically explained what's going on on the screen to the audience and told how the characters in the film felt based on the libretto of the film. Tokugawa Musei, who was a well-known benshi then, actually narrated for the film (Kinugasa 79). On the other hand, the existing edition has no narration but music that was added later in 1971 by Kinugasa, which again makes the spectators understand the story only through the montages in the film.

    Without any dialogues or intertitles, it is difficult to understand the meaning of the sequences so that the spectators have to look for a clue on the screen to understand the story better. The story mainly takes place at a lunatic asylum. An old janitor works there in order to get close to his insane wife hospitalized there. His daughter comes to the asylum to report her engagement. What is to be examined here though is a sequence showing linguistic signs not as intertitles, but as Japanese kanji characters tagged on props. In the middle of the film, there is a sequence that the janitor goes to a local festival, buys a lottery ticket, and wins the first prize. Before he actually buys the ticket, there is a long take that shows various kinds of gifts displayed randomly on the shelves such as kettles, pots, and pans for each prize. As the camera is panning, the gifts are shown at the back of the crowds with the tags indicating fourth, fifth, and eighth prizes on them. Among them, there is a wooden closet with the first-prize tag. It is clearly shown twice during the sequence. Besides that, the camera also shows a tag indicating the extra gift for the first prize. It is labeled on the long object and only shown for a few seconds. It looks like a soft cloth with a certain pattern hung on the wall. In the following scene, the chest is being brought down from the shelf and handed to the janitor. In the next scene, he is carrying it on his shoulders with the first-prize tag on it. He then meets his daughter on the way and shows her both the chest and cloth with a smile on his face. The scene in which an insane dancer is dancing in a fancy dress unlike the tattered one she usually wears in a cell follows the next. The spectators then understand that the janitor received something else beside the chest as the extra gift for the first prize and it was the fancy dress that he later gives to the poor ex-dancer at the asylum. This episode indicates that he is kind enough to give her a present. This also sets up his kind character for his continuous care and support to his insane wife in the next room even if she does not understand who he is at all. In the next scene, the spectators find out that the janitor is laughing alone in his room. It suggests that the whole lottery episode was just his daydream and is all about what he wishes to happen to him. From this short sequence, his tendency to daydream, and his humane characteristic, especially toward the insane patients at the asylum, becomes clearer to the spectators.

    The sequence above, however, requires the spectator's sincere effort to pick up the clues and put them together. It is difficult to grasp the meaning of the sequence mainly for the following reasons: One of them is that not only for its grainy black-and-white shots and the fact that motions become quicker than the usual speed because of the 18 frames-per-second film is projected with 24 fps speed, but also for the way the scenes were shot. As the camera keeps panning and does not fix onto the dress, and the dress itself is not displayed in its own shape, we merely know the fact that there is something as an extra gift for the first prize. Even though the janitor shows the extra gift to his daughter for a moment right after he shows the chest to her, the main object focused on the screen is the chest, not the dress. Since there is no scene in which he either receives the dress at the festival or gives it to the ex-dancer at the asylum, it is a bit difficult for the spectators to notice and understand why she is suddenly dancing in the different dress in the next scene.

    Kawabata Yasunari
    The lottery sequence also indicates what the janitor really wants for his daughter. There is no scene in which he actually gives the chest to her, but it is easy for the spectators to guess that he will surely give it to her later as a wedding present since a chest is a typical trousseau at that time in Japan. This suggests that he really cares about her marriage. In the script, there is a scene after this sequence which shows that she and her fiancée are shopping at a big furniture shop looking for a new chest (Kawabata 425). Including this one, most scenes between her and her fiancée in the script were deleted and only two of them (very short ones) remain in the present film. The omission of these scenes also makes it difficult to understand the relationship between them and what her marriage means to her family. We can barely guess that they are engaged because she shows her ring to her father in his room. In the script, there are several scenes that clearly show her crazy mother becomes an obstacle to their marriage (Kawabata 389, 426, 427). Without these scenes, we can barely imagine what she worries about only with her facial expressions and a momentary flashback of her fiancée. In his autobiography, Kinugasa commented on why he cut the scenes. He said that the deleted scenes were unnecessary as a result because most of them only showed the process of the events (Kinugasa 72). Eliminating the scenes with the daughter, however, blurs the narrative of the film. In the script, the story ends with a scene showing beautiful flowers in her fiancee's room, which indicates their happy wedding coming soon (Kawabata 436), whereas the film does not tell what happens to the couple. Instead, her wedding is visualized in her father's fantasy that she later married not her fiancée, but one of male patients at the asylum, and departed by car leaving her father and insane mother behind. In the present film, the story takes place not only at the asylum but also in the janitor's mind. Most of the subplots in the script are not used or used only as memories and fantasies of the janitor.

    We have a hard time telling which scenes are fantasy and which are real. Because from the beginning to the end, A Page of Madness is full of memories, flashbacks, imagination, daydreams of the characters using superimposition, cross-cutting, distorted images, and rapid montages. Even the reality is often shown as distorted images seen through the insane patients' eyes. We are often fooled by the montages and may come to wonder about what the 'reality' is in the film. In other words, not using intertitles is a way to push the spectators to the position where even a neutral text by the narrator cannot be found and to leave them in the situation that they have to find the sane reality in the film through careful reading of the montages by themselves.
  8. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Theatrical Experience of Bunraku

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Theater: The Collaborative Art class.

    Bunraku is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre founded in 1684. Its style had developed and finally completed in the 1730s. The plays have been performed exactly in the same way since then. Because of this long tradition, bunraku was designated as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009. This unique Japanese theatre reveals totally different meanings to today's audience especially when it is seen from the Western theatrical point of view. Referring to Donald Keene, Roland Barthes, and Susan Sontag, this paper explores how a bunraku play is constructed with various audio and visual elements and analyzes how the audience perceptually recomposes them into a play and appreciates it.

    Various hand props
    In bunraku, a puppet's movements play a huge role. The play is usually performed by a chanter, a shamisen (Japanese small guitar) player, and three puppeteers. Many of them have a long performance career. Some players have performed for more than 30 years and are designated as a living national treasure by the government. The three puppeteers are in black costumes and work cooperatively to manipulate a puppet. One of them operates the puppet's head and right arm, another moves its left hand, and the last person controls its legs. The puppet is then vitalized with the perfectly matched manipulation by these puppeteers. In most bunraku plays, puppets just walk, sit, and talk to each other on stage. They rarely move acrobatically. What the audience sees here is everyday's human behaviors such as walking, looking around, and chatting. As a result, the audience is set to focus more on the puppet's subtle gestures during the play. A puppet has minimum movable parts for actions. It can bend its fingers to hold props such as a tobacco pipe, umbrella, stick, letter, towel, and sword (a puppeteer actually holds them for the puppet). Some male puppets even have movable parts on their faces. They can move their eyebrows and close their eyes and mouths. However, these facial functions are used only at a climax scene when the playing characters are deeply moved or dying. During most time of the play, these functions are not used and the puppets show no facial expression at all. When it comes to female puppets, they do not have any facial functions. They usually cover their faces with their sleeves when they cry. They even do not have legs since they are all covered with kimono. The puppet's movements and gestures sometimes seem so subtle that without the chanter's narrative, the audience hardly understands what the puppet tries to express. In a sense, the art of allusion is highly developed in here (Brazell 33). The audience is set to observe and find meanings in the puppet's every movement and gesture. The audience notices that the puppet is crying by seeing its shoulders trembling and imagines that it is thinking about something when it slightly tilts its head. By seeing the puppet turning its face to a certain direction or lowering its eyes, the audience may know where its attention goes. As the audience reads more emotions from the gestures, the puppet is gradually perceived and seen more as an independent actor with emotional sensitivity.

    On the other hand, bunraku also constantly reminds the audience that it is only a show. During the play, the audience is forced to ignore the existence of three puppeteers that manipulate a puppet even though they are on the same stage. They do not try to hide themselves from the audience at all. The head puppeteer even shows his face to the audience. The interesting point here is that they are seen as if they were just standing next to or behind the puppet. They do not seem to manipulate it since their hands are completely covered with its cloth. They are there as if they observe it closely together with the audience. The head puppeteer does not show any emotion at all on his face during the play. He just stares at the puppet. The other two faces are covered with black cloths so that the audience would not know how they look. For the audience, the puppeteers and the puppet are seen as separated beings although they are actually united and one controls the other. As a result, the exposure of the puppeteers on stage makes the puppet look more independent rather than dependent.

    What drives the audience to read the movements and gestures of a puppet is a chanter's narrative heard simultaneously all through the play. The chanter sits on a sub stage set next to a main stage. He only narrates, sometimes as if he sings. Not only does he tell the story to the audience, but also he describes each scene, suggests what characters think, and impersonates all the characters by himself. He chants very emotionally, sometimes with loud voice, whispers, and gasps. His narrative is much exaggerated and rhythmically stressed by a shamisen player's beats. Because his narrative flows very smoothly, dialogue and description parts are not obviously separated. He even has rich facial expressions and gestures while he is narrating, but again the audience is forced to ignore his existence and the shamisen player on the sub stage. The puppets on the main stage are to be focused all through the play. What the audience needs during the play is just the chanter's narrative and shamisen player's music. The audience's eyes are fixed to the main stage while listening to them. Barthes calls this integrated theatrical experience as "a total spectacle but a divided one" (Barthes 55). Sontag further says that bunraku "isolates – decomposes, illustrates, transcends, intensifies – what acting is" (Sontag 2). This point is also argued in the context of a German playwright Bertolt Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt (distancing effect) in his performing-art theory (Skipitares 13).

    Chanter and shamisen player
    Even though the chanter is not focused on stage by the audience, he controls the whole play. Bunraku is basically "a narrative art" and "a form of storytelling" (Keene 135). He narrates exactly what a script says. Any word changes or improvisation are not allowed since the puppeteers would be confused. From the beginning to the end, they manipulate the puppet strictly under the narration of the chanter. What the chanter says is represented exactly the same on the next stage at the same time. The shamisen player does not lead the chanter, either. He is just an accompanying company who keeps rhythm and helps the story move. During the play, the chanter, shamisen player, and puppeteers never see each other, but they perform as an ensemble (They usually do a rehearsal only once before the opening day of a performance (NHK)).

    Story lines and themes of bunraku are also well-structured for the audience to have unique theatrical experience. Most bunraku stories deal with serious issues that relate to farewell and death, which are the common themes often seen in the famous bunraku playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon's double suicide stories. Usually the story is about heartbreaking farewell to a loved one. They can be lovers, a husband and wife, siblings, or parents and their child. On stage, a chanter's voice by the chanter and shamisen sound function very well to dramatize this kind of tragedy. In many cases, the story starts with the violation of an ordinance or a norm regarding money, honor, or love. The main characters are usually outcast or fleeing from the community where they once belonged. Their conflicts with the society and dilemma push them to the final solution, a suicide. Their obligations (giri) and feelings (ninjo) continuously conflict with each other in their hearts. In many cases, this storyline seemed convincing for the audience at the time probably because of their Buddhist belief was widespread spread then. When the main character says to the loved one that they will be together in the next life, they both believe in reincarnation. According to Keene, bunraku plays had been very successful because the stories were basically romantic. He says that the audience had no chance to demonstrate their loyalty in their real lives and found satisfaction with the characters in the bunraku plays, which is almost same as ordinary American people who feel a sense of identification with the heroes in the Western movies (Keene 145).

    Bunraku stage
    Analyzed from the audience's point of view, the bunraku performance is perceived in visual and audio elements played by the performers and is recomposed intellectually into a whole play by the audience. Because of bunraku's non-animate setting, the audience's willing suspension of disbelief (to watch the play as if it were real) may work more easily than that of the Western theatre with human actors. For example, the bunraku audience enthusiastically applauds right after the chanter's passionate speech at climax. Some even cry. This shows that the aesthetic distance of the audience to the play is totally compatible with its empathy to the character on stage. This is what Sontag calls "elevated, mythic impersonality and heightened, purified emotionality" (Sontag 6).

    Bunraku is far from realism. The puppets do not have rich expressions on their faces. They do not overact, either. Their hands and feet are not crafted elaborately enough for that. On the other hand, the way chanter narrates is much exaggerated and formalized. According to Keene, bunraku does not focus on realism at all from the beginning. Chikamatsu, who is considered the best bunraku playwright in history, once wrote that art lay in the narrow area between fiction and realism (Keene 125). He also said these two should not be off balance in the play. Here the term 'realism' does not refer to the visual and audio verisimilitudes of the characters, but to the movement and gestures of a puppet that triggers deep emotion in the audience. This is what Barthes calls "sensuous abstraction" that includes "fragility, discretion, sumptuousness, unheard-of nuance ... impassivity, clarity, agility, subtlety" (Barthes 60). He further points out that this fetishism of the body's gestures decomposes the totality of a human actor and the body's organic unity in the Western theatre (Barthes 59). In bunraku, the concepts of fiction and realism had evolved into two technical terms: furi and kata. Furi refers to basic human movements in the play such as sitting, running, and crying. These are all formalized and presented in the same ways each time they are performed. Kata is a pose that shows the beauty of a female puppet (e.g. the waving lines of the hems of kimono as seen from behind) or an intense emotion of a male puppet. Kata is also stylized, but the audience finds real beauty in it. According to Keene, kata has no direct connection with the text at all. He says that besides psychologically interpreting a character in the play, a puppeteer's main purpose is to show the audience the moment of visual beauty that he reads and senses in the text (Keene 168). Here the audience anticipates the moment of human beauty created by the inanimate puppet.

    Bunraku has been considered a part of Japanese traditional theatre for a long time. However, when it is examined from the Western point of view, it surely shows new aspects to today's audience although the stories and the language used in the plays are very old. Its theatrical experience also decomposes the concept of the Western theatre to a certain degree and makes us think what acting is. Realism in bunraku is sought not in the verisimilitudes of the characters but in the movements and gestures to which the puppets allude. This art of allusion also suggests that the practice of reading emotions in an inanimate bunraku puppets might have laid the foundation of today's Japanese character-loving culture.
  9. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Crisis Communication Practices of Japan’s Government Right after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

    The following article was written as a group assignment for the Introduction to Public Relations class.

    Investigation report (FGDI)
    This paper explores what the Japanese government had done for public relations right after a huge earthquake that hit the northeastern part of Japan in 2011. More specifically, its media management in three different media categories (mass, social, and international media) is to be examined in detail with two investigation reports recently published on the crisis, several official documents, and some scholarly works on crisis management. Actual management practices by the government such as the frequency of the Prime Minister's press conference and its uses of Twitter and Facebook during the crisis are to be examined in detail, and finally its crisis communication policy that only confirmed facts should be provided is critically analyzed referring to other crisis management studies including the one written by Arjen Boin. By the end of the argument, this paper will provide better understanding of what the Japanese government could have done better during the disaster for the public relations.

    On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitute earthquake hit the northeastern part of Japan. People all over the country had faced the threat of radioactive pollution right after the Fukushima power-plant accidents had happened by tsunami on the following days. During that time, the Japanese government had to deal with this unprecedented crisis and at the same time convey its urgent messages to the publics using various kinds of media in order to inform them of crisis situation and give them a relief. A year has passed after the quake and two investigation reports on the government's crisis management during the disaster were released. One is published by a private think tank (Fukushima Genpatsujiko Dokuritsu Iinkai [FGDI], 2012) and the other is by the National Diet of Japan (The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission [FNAIIC], 2012).

    Purpose of Study
    In this paper, the practices of crisis communication by the Japanese government during the crisis are going to be examined in three different media categories (mass, social, and international media) mainly with the two investigation reports and several related scholarly works on crisis management.

    Justification of Study
    This paper is written to contribute to the better understanding of what the Japanese government could have done better during the disaster for the public relations and what it should now do for the preparation for the next huge disaster. The paper may also contribute to the study of crisis management by a government as a case of a media management at a huge natural disaster in the digital era.

    Review of the Scholarly Literature

    Crisis Management by a Governmental Organization
    A volume of preceded scholarly literature can be found regarding crisis management theories and practices. Among them, Arjen Boin's work (Boin, 2009) mainly focuses on the challenges that a governmental organization would face at a huge natural crisis. Through the examination and analysis of how the Louisiana State Government had dealt with Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Boin points out the main characteristics of today's transboundary crises and illustrates the five main tasks that an administration must do for its crisis management and policy making.

    Reports and Records on Japan's 2011 Tohoku Earthquake
    Investigation report (FNAIIC)
    After a year has passed since the earthquake, there are two full investigation reports on the government's crisis management available so far. One of them was released by a private think tank called Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (FGDI, 2012). The investigation committee members had interviewed more than 300 people who involved in the crisis management. They analyze risk-communication process among the Prime Minister's Office, TEPCO, and the on-site center at the nuclear plants in Fukushima and examine how the government had actually conveyed its messages to the public during the disaster. Prior to the publication, they released the summary of the report in English (Funabashi and Kitazawa, 2012). In this summary, the authors severely criticize the crisis management done by the staffs at the Prime Minister's Head Office as we shall see in detail later in this paper. The other report was released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission established by Japan's Diet. The investigation team had interviewed more than 1,000 people who involved in the crisis management. However, this report does not spare many pages for the crisis management in public relations during the disaster. Still it points out the professional negligence of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) as a main cause of the human disaster, and strongly suggests that the government should have had a clear guideline of information disclosure at a crisis (FNAIIC, 2012). There are also some English materials that were released by the governmental office available on the web including the PowerPoint slides presented by a public affairs official at a global communication conference (Shikata, 2011) and an op-ed under the name of the Prime Minister which was covered on several international newspapers all around the world (Kan, 2011).

    Other Scholarly Literature on the Tohoku Earthquake
    Because very few complete investigation reports are available at the moment, there is very small amount of scholarly literature that focuses on the crisis management by the Japanese government. One of the few works that deals with a crisis communication issue is the paper written by Ronald L. Carr, Cornelius B. Pratt, and Irene C. Herrera (Carr, Pratt, & Herrera, 2012). In here, the authors examine the disaster and how Japanese publics reacted to the government through SNSs with a sense of distrust. They point out that the public's frustration had emerged to a perceived level with a great help of new social media.

    Media Management of Mass Media
    Tsunami flooring in Sendai Airport
    In mass media, there are several incidents that had caused the public's disappointment and sense of distrust against the government. According to the investigation report, the Prime Minister then Naoto Kan had press conferences after the crisis only on March 13, 15, 18, 25, April 1, and 12 (FGDI, 2012). The number of the conferences was few and the frequency dropped rapidly toward the end. Kan's appearance in media was intentionally avoided by the media relations team in order to hedge the risk of his making a slip of the tongue since he had hostile feeling against media long before the disaster happened. Another example is a strange personnel replacement of a spokesperson in the government. On March 12 around 2:00 p.m. at the press conference of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Koichiro Nakamura, who was responsible for publicity at that time, stated that there was a possibility of meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. On the same day at 5:15 p.m., there was another press conference, which became the last one for Nakamura to attend. A new director of publicity was assigned right after that. Although the government officials denied that Nakamura was replaced due to his improper speech about the meltdown, it was one of the momentums that people held doubt about what the government announced. The publics also cast doubt on the government's ambiguous announcement on public safety. The Chief Cabinet Secretary then Yukio Edano had often said to the publics that “There is no immediate effect” regarding the effect of radiation to the health. However, this announcement sounded too ambiguous for many people and the possibility of long-term radiation effect was immediately raised as a counterargument. Edano told the investigation team in his interview that he had tried his best to speak as simple as possible avoiding technical terms in order to make his announcement understandable to the general public (FGDI, 2012). Furthermore, observational data of radioactive diffusion was not released immediately when it was needed. The System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) remained largely unused during the crisis despite the fact that there was widespread environmental contamination by radioactive material between March 11th and 15. The SPEEDI data was not officially provided to the Prime Minister's Office until 23 and evacuation orders were issued without the data (Funabashi & Kitazawa, 2012). As a result, only 20% of the residents living near the plants knew about the nuclear accident when they received the evacuation order on March 12th (FNAIIC, 2012).

    According to FGDI, around 70% of the respondents of a public-opinion poll said “insufficient” about the information provided by the government during the crisis. The other poll indicates the public's strong dissatisfaction with the public relations activities by the government. Moreover, about 60-70% of people did not support its crisis management (FGDI, 2012). Public opinion became more negative after the TEPCO admitted that the nuclear meltdown had actually occurred right after the earthquake. The public support had largely gone down as negative criticisms for the government's initial response to the disaster had increased. (FGDI, 2012).

    Media Management of Social Media
    Prime Minister's Office
    According to FGDI, many people were using the Internet right after the massive earthquake and tsunami. They used social media as a communication tool since telephones had not been available for a while right after the earthquake. The Japanese government also took action on the web using social media. It created a website on the same day of the quake and had its own Twitter account (@Kantei_Saigai) two days later for sending out disaster information. It was a quick action that many people, especially the evacuees at the disaster-hit area, really wanted at that time. In its twitter feeds, it mainly announced what the Press Secretary had said at press conferences. Tweeting had been managed by three young officials who worked in the public relations department of the government. They worked 24 hours a day in rotation. By March 21, the number of followers of the government's account was about 260,000 and became 300,000 by the 28. These figures show how curious people were about the actions that the government had taken at the time. The government also tried to fulfill the public's needs. It had tweeted 48 times on March 14 and 62 times on the next day. However, the numbers decreased after that. On March 23, it had only tweeted 23 times. The government's Twitter account was only used for sending disaster information to the followers, not replaying to them.

    At the other departments like Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC), the staffs there acted together to build an online system that enabled the official administrators to acquire a certified Twitter account smoothly and at the same time list their accounts on a social media portal site as a public institution.

    Even with the various efforts mentioned above, the government did not seem to earn public's trust much. According to a poll in the report, 28.9% of people decreased confidence in the information released by the government, whereas only 7.8% increased it. On the other hand, 23.1% still saw the governmental announcement as a valuable resource (FGDI, 2012).

    Overall, the government had insufficient PR organizations at the disaster. First of all, the government did not have proper staffs who knew about social media very well. There was no specialist from a social media industry until it finally employed a blogger who are assigned to interact more with the public in September (FGDI, 2012). In a word, most of the PR practices that the government did were one-way communications to the public and were not intended to get feedback from them.

    Media Management of International Media
    Prime Minister then Kan
    Regarding press releases to international media and non-Japanese residents in Japan, the Japanese government had kept providing information mainly in English. In dealing with international press, the Global Communications Office of the Prime Minister's Office played the main role. For example, the Head of the Office Noriyuki Shikata had had 65 interviews with the international press between March 11th and 30. Even after a month from the disaster, the Office post an op-ed titled “Japan's Road to Recovery and Rebirth” under the name of the Prime Minister then Kan (Kan, 2011) in order to lure foreign investment and business to Japan again. It was run on the Washington Post and other 128 media in 62 countries and areas (Shikata, 2011). For image management, the Office also placed an ad to express its thanks to other countries for helping Japan at the disaster on 216 media in 63 countries and areas including International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. Regarding social media relations, the Office made a new Twitter's account for English speakers right after the earthquake on March 14 and started tweeting about disaster information. It was just two days after the Prime Minister's Office started tweeting the same information in Japanese. The number of the followers expanded to more than 22,000 in two weeks. On the 23, the Global Office also made special pages of the 3.11 Earthquake on Facebook and started providing information there in English (Shikata, 2011). Even with these government's efforts to release appropriate information and messages about the crisis and recovery situations in Japan to the world, foreign media had often reported the disaster sensationally with distorted, negative images and wrong information.

    Map of seismic intensity
    As all the practices of public relations in three different media categories mentioned above suggest, the Japanese government did lose the publics' trust to a certain degree as a result. This was also attested by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Adviser then Hiroshi Tasaka (FGDI, 2012). The aforementioned poll showing that 60-70% of the public gave little credit to the government's accident response also supports the fact. What may have worsened the situation was the weakness and inefficiency of its “amateurish level” crisis communications (Funabashi & Kitazawa, 2012). It is clearly shown, for example, in the use of social media. The staff at the Prime Minister's Office did not know much about how to use it for the purpose of communicating with the public. It basically had one-way communication and did not try to receive and analyze what the public actually needed at the time of the crisis (FGDI, 2012). It could not even deal with the criticism raised by citizens and local governments through SNSs (Carr, Herrera, & Pratt, 2012). Most of all, however, the main reason for the management failure may lie in its crisis management policy (FNAIIC, 2012). The staffs in the Prime Minister's Office stuck to a policy regarding information disclosure. It was clearly stated by the Chief Cabinet Secretary then Edano at the press conference on March 13th, two days after the earthquake. He told the press that the government was trying to exclude uncertain or unidentified information from the press releases and only gave the certain, confirmed information swiftly (FGDI, 2012). This policy seemed totally fine as an official stance, but it actually worked very negatively to the public. Because of this policy, the government had often been seen as if it had not revealed important truth to the public (FNAIIC, 2012). Regarding crisis management, Arjen Boin points out that one of the most crucial leadership tasks during a crisis is to explain what is happening and what leaders are doing to manage the crisis. With the convincing rationale they offer, the public supports for their crisis management efforts (Boin, 2009). This is what the Japanese government should have done for the public first even if there had not been enough concrete facts to announce. Even the incomplete information should have been delivered to the public if it was used for the government's decision making (FNAIIC, 2012). Since the government did not fully put forth every effort on this point, it was seen to have very weak attributions of crisis responsibility and was perceived merely as a victim of the natural disaster (Carr et al., 2012). In other words, the Prime Minister's Office could not take a lead at all in its crisis management and was finally seen less credible and lack of leadership by its own public.

    The impact of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and the following nuclear crisis in Japan were unexpected for all the staffs in the Prime Minister's Office. They could not handle them successfully, especially in the field of public communications. Due to a chaotic situation, communication problems in the Office, and inefficient uses of social media, the government had gradually lost the public's credit. The situation had gotten worse with its media-relations policy that it only conveyed the limited, confirmed information. The information policy only made the public and international media respect less of what the Japanese government said. There are still some investigation committees working on their final reports on the government's crisis management during the crisis. The English translations of the two investigation reports are also going to be published soon. Through these investigations and examinations, the Japanese officials and public will learn what went wrong during the crisis and know what can be prepared for the next possible natural disaster in the future.
  10. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Character and Communication Analyses of Antigone

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Theater: The Collaborative Art class.

    A man in the power always plays a big and tragic role in Greek tragedies. Especially in Antigone, the play written by one of the great Greek playwrights Sophocles around 440 B.C., the main antagonist Creon suffers tremendously due to his own attempts to fulfill his need for approval as the king of the Thebes. In this paper, analysis on his character and confrontation with others reveal the main theme of the play about how he fails to establish his own legitimacy of being the king.

    The plot of Antigone can be described as a chain reaction of tragedies. Creon, who has just taken the power of the Thebes, orders to ban the burial of Polyneices who betrayed the state. This is Creon's first trial to show his power to the people he governs. However, Antigone defies his order and holds a funeral for his brother. Creon orders to send her to the prison. There she hangs herself. Following her death, her fiancée and Creon's son Haemon kills himself, too. Out of despair, Haemon's mother and Creon's wife Eurydice also kills herself. Creon is terribly shocked at realizing that his orders have ended up in this way. Besides these characters, Antigone's sister Ismene, the prophet Teiresias, and the Chorus, which represents the citizen's voice in Thebes, sometimes encourage, sometimes discourage the characters' intentions, and influence their decisions throughout the drama.

    The key character of Antigone is not Antigone, but Creon and the key points are how he has tried to establish his legitimacy of being the king and how his attempts have failed. First, he thinks that Polyneices does not deserve to be buried properly because he betrayed his own country. Later Creon changes his mind and compromises with the others around him on his first policy. This occurs simply because his legitimacy of being the king is not concrete at the beginning and he completely fails to establish it at the end. He became the king of the Thebes by accident based on the two facts (“when Oedipus righted the city and when he was destroyed, you [Chorus] still continued with steadfast thoughts toward their children.” (166-169), “I hold all the power and throne according to nearness of kin to the dead.” (173-174)). He tries to apply his governing principles to confirm his legitimacy with the people around him. He tries with his son Haemon by applying son’s royalty to a father (“Yes, you should always be disposed this way ... to assume your post behind your father's judgments in all things.” (640), “[Sons] may both repay an enemy with evils and honor the philos equally with the father.” (643-644)). However, Creon cannot persuade Haemon with this reasoning. Instead, he is rebutted by his own son from the governed point of view of his subject. Haemon tells him what his subject say in the state about his policy. To Antigone, Creon repeatedly uses the tactic of gender discrimination against her to show his legitimacy. (“While I am alive, no woman will rule me.” (525), “We could not be called "defeated by women"--could not.” (680), “You abomination who trails after a woman.” (746)). Antigone totally refuses Creon's attempts to legitimize himself by regarding Gods as a higher power than him and positioning herself as a pious devotee to them. These conflicts between Creon and other characters clearly show the main theme of the play about the power game regarding the legitimacy between governor and the governed, and how they conflict with each other in different logics.

    A scene from Antigone
    The same theme can also be found through the character analysis on the Chorus in the play. The Chorus group of Theban Elders has kept a neutral stance toward Creon throughout the whole play. They seem to be obedient to the king, but are very careful not to be seen totally on his side. For example, at the beginning Creon asks the Elders to be the “watchers of my orders” (215), but they refuse his offer by suggesting “Set forth this task for a younger man to undertake” (216). They also objectify Creon's statement by telling what Haemon says also makes sense (“Lord, it is fair, if he says something to the point, for you to learn, and in turn for you from him. It has been well said well twice.” (724-725)). By keeping a fair distance from the king and at the same time keeping good relationship with him, they finally succeed in persuading Creon, making him dependant to them, and changing his mind (“You are right.” (771), “What ought I to do, then? Tell me. I will obey.” (1099), “You advise this? It is best for me to yield?” (1102)). Even the governed Elders, who are supposed to give him legitimacy as a king, would not let that happen. At the end, Creon completely loses his credibility as a king and sees himself as “a useless man” (1339). In a sense, their neutral position toward the king is intended only to damage his prestige and lead him to the tragic end implicitly.

    What Creon shows in Antigone is how one's attempts to fulfill one's need for approval in a community can easily fail. One has to use different kinds of value systems, logics, social hierarchy, and principles such as father-son relationship and gender roles to persuade others and build one's legitimacy of being in the power. The play shows how often these attempts are likely to go wrong. In a sense, the play illustrates how difficult it is even in the Greek era to acquire and keep the legitimacy of the governor.
  11. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Identity Politics at an Academic Seminar on Campus

    The following article was written as an assignment for the World Regions and Culture class.

    My Freshman Year
    A university is a place where a student isolates oneself from the ‘real world’ and cultivates oneself for an academic purpose. At the same time, one can see competition and power politics below the surface among the students. Thus exploring an academic community is interesting in that one can observe the students struggling for their impression management. As Rebekah Nathan writes from an anthropological point of view, a college student is seen at a liminal stage while he/she is in the university (Nathan 2005:146-147). Based on my fieldwork at an academic seminar held at the Japan campus of an American university in Tokyo, I would like to examine and illustrate how an American undergraduate student in an American university tried to represent himself as a member of minority groups and to be accepted as a member of an intellectual American community in a foreign country.

    My fieldwork had been done during an academic seminar that was hosted by a research institute belonging to the American state university’s Japan campus in Tokyo. The settings were as follows: It was a Friday night from 7:30p.m. until 9:00p.m. The seminar was open not only to the students and faculty at the institute and university, but also to the public. It was all done in English. On the third floor of a business building, two classrooms were combined and used as a site. 80-90 seats were available in the room. First only one of the rooms was used, but as more people came, partitions between the two rooms were removed and another room was opened to the audience right before the seminar started. In there, two people shared one table. There was a podium and a big white screen at the front of the room. Two tables with chairs were set beside them for two guest speakers and a moderator to sit. The front area of the classroom was a bit dark during the first half of the seminar due to the use of a projector. After the first speaker finished using it, lights went on. A university’s brochure was left on the table at each seat. There were a few chairs also available on the window side.

    The events during the seminar had occurred as follows: At 7:15p.m., my observation started. This time I attended the lecture as a participant. The seminar was free. No reservation or procedure was needed. I sat at the end of the row at the left corner so that I could observe all the audience members in the room. There were about 20 people in the classroom then. Many were white and aged between 40 and 60. Most of them wore dark-color suits or light-color jackets. Among them, there were a few Asian men (probably Japanese) and a few white and Asian women. There were two undergraduate students (male and female) working as assistant staff. They were helping set up the seminar by checking a video camera position and microphone volume, and setting tables and chairs. I talked with one of them. There were a few graduate-like students in their thirties and several professors that I know in the room. I also saw two black undergraduate students (male and female) in their twenties in the audience. Other than that, I could not see any undergraduate students in the room. Most of the audience seemed like foreigners working in Japan.

    At 7:30p.m., the lecture session began. The number of the audience members increased to more than 50 by then. More Japanese-like men were seen in the audience. The director of the institute gave a short speech to the audience. Then the first guest speaker, who was a white, college professor in the U.S., started his lecture using PowerPoint. The topic of the seminar was the 2012 U.S. Presidential election and Republican primaries. The lecturer explained the geographical and historical factors of the Republican Primary race going on in the U.S. in detail. One person in the audience pointed out a mistake in the speaker’s data, but other than that, the audience was listening to the lecturer’s speech quietly and intently.

    At 7:50p.m., the first speaker finished his speech and the second guest speaker, who was a white, Tokyo-based political analyst, started his lecture. He did not use PowerPoint. The number of the audience members increased to about 60. The audience laughed once when the speaker made a mistake in telling a candidate’s name. Besides that, they seemed to listen to him quietly and intently. There were two very old white women sitting at the first row near the podium. The older one kept nodding during the speeches.

    By 8:12p.m., there were few available seats. In total, there seemed to be about 70 people in the room. 90 percent of them were men. Among them, 10 percent were Asian. There seemed to be no undergraduate students in their twenties in the audience besides the two mentioned earlier.

    At 8:15p.m., the second speaker finished his speech and a Q and A session started. During the session, there were about 7 or 8 questioners. All of them were male and all of them except one (an undergraduate student to be mentioned later in this paper) were working adults. They all asked questions related to the U.S. Presidential election. Most of them gave their names and their job titles or company’s names before they asked a question.  Among them, an American lawyer, a U.S. official of the Department of Treasury, and a Japanese researcher working at a Japan’s top economic think-tank were included. A few of them seemed to know each other since they mentioned each other’s names in their questions. At the very end, the black male undergraduate student, who was sitting at the end of the last row, raised his hand and asked two questions to the lecturers. One of them was about why a college student like him could not vote from abroad. The other one was about how ‘minority people’ in the U.S. are affecting the election this time. His first question was immediately answered not by the lecturers, but by two of the audience members. Right after he finished asking questions, and before the lecturers opened their mouths, two of the questioners (the lawyer and the U.S. official) commented on his first question. First, the lawyer confirmed with the student that he is a U.S. citizen, and pointed out that he can vote even if he were in Japan. The undergraduate student seemed to understand that what he just said was based on wrong information, and just said “Okay” to him. The lawyer added that he or the U.S. official could help the student on this issue if the student needed their help. He then replied to the lawyer jokingly saying, “I usually don’t trust lawyers, but thanks.” After these exchanges among the audience members, his second question was briefly answered by the lecturers. The Q and A session continued until 9:00p.m., and the seminar finished with a short speech by the director of the institute.

    Social events on campus in the U.S.
    Before analyzing the event described above, I would like to explain what an academic event means to an undergraduate student. The fact that very few undergraduate students actually participated at the academic seminar on campus was no surprise to me at all. In general, social events on campus are reported to have become less influential in the last decade as young students become more individualistic. They are more likely to shut themselves in their comfortable friend networks such as on Facebook or among friends from high school. As a result, many college students are less likely to attend social events on campus (Nathan 2005:41-66). Among social events on campus, according to the New York Times, only college sports games (Pappano 2012) and corporate-sponsored promoting campaigns run by hired students (Singer 2011) are the two most powerful social events mobilizing people on campus today. As Nathan pointed out, contemporary college students draw on little academic interests and contacts on campus (Nathan 2005:57). For most students, the university community is experienced as a relatively small, personal network of people who did things together (Nathan 2005:54). Therefore, it is quite understandable that most students did not spare their time to attend the academic seminar even though the topic such as the U.S. Presidential election was familiar and important for them and was held in one of the classroom they usually used.

    Small Places, Large Issues
    From an anthropological point of view, the point I focused most during the seminar is the Q and A session. In this session, each questioner represented oneself as a ‘qualified’ speaker who had a keen interest in today’s U.S. politics and was intelligent enough to comment on the current political trend with a sharp insight. Their job titles and company’s names would have given them added prestige. This is what Thomas Eriksen describes as a form of impression management, that “Americans may strive to acquire status symbols” (Eriksen 2001:153). They were a minority (foreigners) in Japan, but at this seminar, they were the majority in terms of the language spoken and the topic discussed in the room. In other words, they represented themselves as intellectual elites who could discuss the political issue academically with the experts.

    The most interesting questioner was, however, the undergraduate student who asked his questions last. He also tried to represent himself as a representative of dual minority groups. In his first question, he asked why an American student in a foreign country like him did not have a chance to vote. This question sounded more like a complaint against the working adults in the same room. In this case, he represented himself as a representative of other American undergraduate students at the same campus in Tokyo. What he said to the lawyer last clearly showed that the student was positioning himself as an anti-authoritarian. He also positioned himself as a member of ethnic minority groups in the U.S. when he was asking the second question regarding minority effects on the election. This is what often happens in class on campus in the U.S. Nathan writes in her book that “when the [racial or ethnic] subject is raised, as in the occasional class, students of color report being continually expected to educate whites about minority issues or speak” (Nathan 2005:60). In a sense, the undergraduate student just did what minority people are expected to do on campus although the half of his initial attempt unfortunately failed. From an anthropological point of view, he just stepped into the part of the ‘real world’ on his campus with his identity as a college student and also as a member of the ethnic minority group, and faced his immaturity as a result. For him, attending the academic seminar and asking questions to the experts would have been a challenge to become a grown-up adult in the society. In a word, this could be seen as a rite of passage for him in order to be accepted as a politically-conscious American citizen like the other participants.

    An academic seminar or conference on campus has ambiguously symbolic meanings. Most of the audience members are usually professionals and experts, but the event is held right in the middle of an undergraduate students’ territory. For the undergraduate students, the seminar is the part of ‘real society’ right next to their ordinary campus life so that they can easily step in and feel the atmosphere of it. My fieldwork this time was based upon these dimensional settings. On an anthropological perspective, a young undergraduate student’s attempt to represent himself in the ‘real world’ was made in the middle of the impression-managing game among the other adult audience members, most of whom have symbolic statuses. It was interesting to observe this symbolic politics played by American people in a classroom in Japan.
  12. Shinichiro Hamazaki

    Analysis on the Communication Process in the Prime Minister’s Office during the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

    The following article was written as an assignment for the Business of Media class.

    Investigation report
    What people can do after a huge disaster is limited. One of the most important things left to do for them is to record what happened, analyze it, learn what they could have done before the crisis happened, and find out what they can do before the next big disaster occurs. In the same way, people can also learn much from the experience of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan. Japan's government faced a desperate situation and went through an extremely difficult time to deal with the crisis. A year after the disaster, an investigation report (Fukushima) was released by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, which was established by a private think-tank, Rebuilt Japan Initiative Foundation (It also released the summary of the last chapter of the report (Funabashi and Kitazawa) in English). In this report, the Commission members interviewed more than 300 people who were involved in the crisis including the top government officials such as Prime Minister at the time Naoto Kan (The top executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) declined their request to be interviewed). In here, what had actually happened at the Prime Minister's Office in the first week of the crisis is described in detail. Through examining the communication process inside the Office at the early stage of the crisis from structural and personal-characteristic perspectives, I would like to propose a desirable system for crisis management that will surely correspond to a crisis and work functionally in a huge disaster in the future.

    Members in the Prime Minister's Office
    Before analyzing communication process during the crisis, I would like to provide background information in minimum about the important members in the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo. There were 7-8 core members of top officials and experts. Basically, they made all the important decisions during the first seven days of the crisis. They were Prime Minister Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) Banri Kaieda, three assistants to the prime minister, TEPCO's fellow Ichiro Takekuro, and Chairperson of the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) Haruki Madarame.

    Structural analysis on communication process
    Prime Minister's Office
    First, I would like to analyze the communication process among groups from a structural point of view. The final report points out that the most important point to discuss in the crisis management by the government in this crisis is the communication gaps between the government and nuclear industry (Funabashi and Kitazawa 1). There was several communication channels established during the crisis including the ones between the Prime Minister's Office and TEPCO, the Office and the nuclear experts, the Office and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the NSC, the Office and the TEPCO's on-site office at the nuclear plants in Fukushima, and the TEPCO's headquarter in Tokyo and its on-site office. In many cases, most of these channels did not function well to convey information rapidly from the on-site workers to the top government officials, and pass down the orders other way round. The information was not supposed to be transmitted in these ways. According to a crisis manual prepared by the government and TEPCO for a nuclear accident long before the actual accident happened, there should have been nuclear emergency response headquarters, so-called the “off-site centers,” immediately being established near the Fukushima plants when a nuclear accident happened. They were supposed to serve as frontline headquarters. However, the center had never been set up because tsunami hit the planned location on March 11th. Instead of this two-hierarchical model between the off-cite centers in Fukushima and the headquarter in Tokyo, the actual information process at the early stage of the disaster had at least four levels to convey the information from the bottom to the top: From the Fukushima plants to the TEPCO's headquarter in Tokyo, from there to the NISA, and then from the NISA to the Prime Minister's Office (Fukushima 104). This multilevel structure of the communication channels actually prevented the Office members from having the smooth flow of the information and making quick decisions. In many cases, the information was blocked and not conveyed to the Office immediately. This situation became one of the causes that TEPCO and NISA lose the Office members' trust at the early stage.

    Even in the government, there was an information divide between the Crisis Management Center on the mid-second floor and the Prime Minister's Office on the fifth floor in the same building. For example, prediction data projected by the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) was delivered to the Crisis Management Center, but had never passed on to the Office at first (Fukushima 105). These information blockages caused the Office members to intervene more with micro management at the on-site center in Fukushima. Finally on 15th, Kan decided to set up a joint response headquarter at TEPCO and assigned one of his assistants Goshi Hosono as the chief of the center and ordered him to station there. This new headquarter enabled the Office members to gather information much more quickly than before. At the same time, they were also able to pass on the orders from Kan to TEPCO and the on-site office in Fukushima immediately (Fukushima 106).

    The final report concludes that the two biggest problems regarding the crisis management system are the malfunction of the off-cite centers and bureaucrats' poor management ability to deal with a sudden crisis (Fukushima 394). This is just what Arjen Boin says in “The New World of Crises and Crisis Management: Implications for Policymaking and Research” (2009). Here Boin refers to the political-administrative challenges of preparing government agencies to deal with sudden adversity as one of the three types of challenges that the government faces in a crisis (Boin 370). According to Boin, what is required in the crisis management is flexibility, improvisation, redundancy, and the occasional breaking of rules (Boin 373). These points are still remained as the structural problems of Japanese government's crisis management system.

    Personal analysis on communication process
    Next, I would like to analyze the communicating process between individuals in the Prime Minister's Office from a personal-characteristic point of view. The point can be summarized in Kan's poor crisis management ability and risk-communication skills. His characteristics can be summed up in the following four points:

    1. Poor risk-communication skills. Many members in the Office told the Commission members that he often shouted to others, which made many officials and advisers shrink under his direction. NSC Chairperson Madarame said that he could not fully tell what he should have told Kan then because of Kan's harsh attitude toward him (Fukushima 110).

    2. Deep involvement into the micromanagement. At the night on March 11th (the first day of the crisis), Kan tried to arrange power-supply cars at the Fukushima plants by himself. He even asked the staff about the size, weight, and length of the batteries they needed over his cell phone. The report concludes that his conducts such as asking about minor technical details only further complicated the process (Funabashi and Kitazawa 10).

    3. Personal advisers outside the government. He no longer believed what the experts and advisors from TEPCO and NISA said any more at the early stage (Madarame lost his trust because he told Kan on the 11th that there would be no hydrogen explosion, which actually had occurred on the following days). He often called experts and advisors that he knew. He called them and asked their advices even in the middle of the crisis. One of the Office members said that the ‘experts' and ‘advisors’ who had no responsibility and authority should not have involved in the decision-making process in such a way (Fukushima 112).

    4. Top-down management style. He tended to play a leading role in decision making on various issues in detail. In the report, the Commission evaluates some of his behaviors that actually led the situation getting better. One of them is the fact that he refused TEPCO's request to pull all its workers from the Fukushima plants. Kan and other officials immediately rushed into the TEPCO's headquarter in Tokyo and made a speech in front of 200 TEPCO's employees saying that there was no way TEPCO could accept defeat and they should put their lives on the line to salvage the situation (Fuhabashi and Kitazawa 8).

    Prime Minister then Kan
    By Kan's action and statement mentioned above along with the decision to establish the joint crisis-management center there, the report says that the government bore the ultimate responsibility for bringing a nuclear accident under control (Fuhabashi and Kitazawa 8). On the other hand, it also points out that Kan's management style to get involved in detail also made unnecessary confusion and stress around him. (Fukushima 98). As Boin points out, usually it is not clear who has a responsibility of the crisis and who must deal with it (Boin 368). However, even if it is hard to collect, analyze, and comprehend the necessary information to develop a so-called “common operational picture,” to develop a capacity for fast-paced information processing under stressful conditions is necessary for high reliability organizations such as a government (Boin 372). In this sense, Kan's decision to establish the joint operation center at TEPCO turned out to be a better solution at the time even if his heroic statement and action at TEPCO are assessed as inappropriate in crisis management.

    Desirable communication system in crisis
    Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Based on the facts and analysis examined above, I would like to illustrate a desirable crisis-management system briefly. One of the big problems is that the top officials did not know the right procedure for the crisis. As mentioned earlier, there was a manual for a nuclear crisis, but it was not used at all as it was supposed to. One of the Office member Tetsuro Fukuyama said that he did not even know such a manual existed and bureaucrats did not tell him about it, either (Fukushima 101). They did not even know how much and how far they had to get involved. This is one of the main causes of the risk-management failure in this crisis. As the report suggests (Fukushima 389), a totally new organization specified only for crises such as FEMA in the U.S. should be designed so that the government staffs can define their roles precisely by law and would not get confused during the crisis.

    A worst-case scenario

    Damaged reactors after explosions
    The other fundamental problem is how to correspond to the changing situation accordingly. This is especially important when the situation is not clear at its first stage. On March 22nd, as the situation was getting worse, the Office members decided to make what they called “a worst-case scenario.” It was supposed to be made by Madarame, but since Kan did not trust him at all, Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Shunsuke Kondo was secretly assigned to draw it up. According to the scenario, in the worst case, 30 million residents in Tokyo would need to evacuate. It had not been revealed until Kan stepped down from the Prime Minister and referred to it six months later (Fukushima 93). The report concludes that the scenario was made in the middle of the crisis so that the Office members could see the whole picture of the crisis from a wider perspective. On the other hand, it also points out that the tendency of the government unwilling to disclose information triggered the public distrust toward the government as a result (Fukushima 394-395). As Boin points out, a crisis tends to undermine the legitimacy base of governing structures and processes (Boin 369). To stop this situation, they must offer a convincing rationale that generates public and political support for their crisis management efforts (Boin 373). That is what Japan's government failed to acquire in the crisis management during this crisis. I think one of the main reasons that caused the public distrust is its public announcement policy that it only announces facts. According to then Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, It does not say anything that includes speculation. This is why they did not admit meltdown in the plants at the early stage. This government attitude surely created distrust among the public and made them believe that the government hid inconvenient truth. By transferring the authority to a specialized, independent organization, it may keep its credibility to a certain extent.

    As the final report described, the biggest problem with the crisis management by the Office members in the crisis was “the amateurish level of its crisis communications” (Funabashi and Kitazawa 10). All the examples and analysis argued above indicate that the Office members had a very hard time at the early stage to set up an efficient information system that can transform itself according to the on-going situation. Bureaucratic sectionalism was also a big problem for putting the transformation forward. As the report suggests, what is needed on emergency is not a rigid, well-structured plan, but a system that can flexibly made new plans (Fukushima 396). In other words, the system should be designed as a flexible organization that can offer interim and optimum solutions at each phase of the changing situation accordingly during the crisis. As Boin suggests, a crisis can be a good opportunity for policy reform, institutional overhaul, and even leadership revival (Boin 374). This may be the best chance for Japan's government and public to think about the way they did during the crisis and find out what they can best do for the next generation.

UMW Spring 2024 (Bond & Groom)

Welcome to Paul Bond and Jim Groom’s Spring 2024 ds106

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