Author: Jeremiah Fajardo

JAPAN: ANA Commercial Sparks Social Media Wildfire

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – On paper, promoting a sense of international awareness sounds like a logical quality for an airline to convey in its commercials. Such ads can assure customers of a friendly, welcoming environment. Yet, as All Nippon Airways (ANA) has found, this is hardly achieved by poking fun at racial stereotypes. On January 19 ANA released a controversial, 30-second commercial promoting its upcoming schedule of international flights through Haneda airport. The company was soon bombarded by complaints, much of them through social media, due to the clip’s final scene. The ad, which is in English, opens with two ANA pilots, portrayed by actor Hidetoshi Nishijima and comedian Hidetomo Masuno respectively, discussing how they could “boost the image of the airline as an international carrier.” After a couple exchanges Nishijima exclaims: “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” Masuno responds with an emphatic “Sure.” The camera then pans to him, showing that he is now wearing a blonde wig and large, rubber nose. The comedian’s sudden costume change pokes fun at the stereotypical view of Westerners held by some Japanese. In the days following the commercial’s premiere, ANA’s various social media accounts were inundated by angry tweets and comments. One Twitter user, @sibylleito, tweeted: “If you are a foreigner and have planned to come to #Japan do not choose an openly racist airline like #ANA! Watch their Japanese commercial.” On...

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JAPAN: New Bill a Bid for State Security or Gateway to Orwellian Dystopia?

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – As China works to impose (and handle blow back from) a controversial air defense zone, Japan’s parliament is tied up in its own controversy in the form of a divisive state secrets bill. Already passed by the Lower House in November, the contentious law aims, via harsher penalties, to prevent leaks of sensitive information. But from average citizens to U.N. bigwigs, many have questioned just what constitutes a ‘state secret.’ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to calm concerns, stating that two government bodies would be created to guarantee a “multilayered oversight system.” But for those worried, that’s far from reassuring. From one side, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan asserts the need for any supervisory entities to be completely independent of the government. In a statement to the Mainichi, DPJ honcho Banri Kaieda questioned Abe’s motives, stating “I can say with certainty now that the bill is created by bureaucrats for the bureaucrats to hide information.” Perhaps Kaieda is right. Abe’s reported ‘oversight’ bodies are said to include vice ministers and the chief Cabinet secretary, undermining any sense of autonomy. On the civilian front, protests have sprung up throughout Tokyo, with an incredible 6,000 citizens picketing the Diet building on December 4. Amongst the worries voiced was the blatant threat to the public’s right to know. Wakako Fukuda, a 19-year-old university student, echoed this,...

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JAPAN: New Komeito Party Hopes to Safeguard Media Freedom

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – Amid the battering winds of Typhoon Wipha, the Japanese government has publicized a refreshing piece of legislature, hoping to broaden the media’s freedom of speech. The bill, referred to as the “Secrets Protection Bill,” aims at “protecting national security secrets to ensure freedom of the media to collect information,” according to The Yomiuri Shimbun. Interestingly, while the law increases protection of press freedoms, it also  includes harsher punishment for government officials who reveal confidential state information. Much of the measure has been shaped thanks to input from the New Komeito party, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) coalition partner. Earlier drafts reportedly failed to include protections for the media, focusing solely on penalties for those who leaked state secrets. The New Komeito saw this as problematic and likely to lead to abuse by the government. It was after this critique that the LDP announced the provisions “to ensure the right of the press to collect information (…), freedom of the media and the right to know.” Whether this beneficial measure will pass is currently unknown. But, its odds are certainly good considering this past July’s elections brought an end to the divided...

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JAPAN: Media Icon Defies Status Quo Amid Olympics Euphoria

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – While much of the nation celebrates its 2020 Summer Olympics bid win, one celebrity has done something surprising: speak out against the government. Norika Fujiwara, a popular model and actress, recently revealed her distaste for a proposed bill on her website. Referred to as the state secrets protection bill, the measure would “stiffen penalties against civil servants who leak classified information.” The media icon asserted that the seemingly innocuous proposal would, in actuality, infringe upon the populace’s freedom of speech. She stressed the implications to her fans, writing “Once the bill is signed, the people who will write the truth on the Internet (or through other means) will be punished.” Further, in a separate post, Fujiwara accused the government of “covering up details” and “spreading misinformation” regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant. She wrote a follow-up statement after Tokyo’s designation as the 2020 Olympics host, expressing hope that the “duty would prompt the government to tackle the radiation crisis head-on.” Considering the pressure now on Tokyo, one can only hope something will be done. In a nation typically known for uniformity and consensus Fujiwara stands out. Openness such as hers is rare amongst Japanese celebrities, considering some, such as Taro Yamamoto, have faced career-debilitating backlash as a result. (Edit: May 19, 2014) The following source link is no longer active. Apologies for any inconvenience....

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JAPAN: Iconic Anime Director Retires, Again

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – After decades in the anime and film industries, Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has announced his retirement. According to The Japan Times, the shocking news came out of the Venice film festival on September 1. Koji Hoshino, head of Studio Ghibli, told reporters that Miyazaki’s latest film, this July’s Kaze Tachinu would be his final work.Miyazaki himself will disclose further details in a press conference on Friday, September 6. Yet, this isn’t the first time he’s “retired” from the director’s seat. Such statements have been made intermittently since 1998, after the completion of Princess Mononoke. Often compared to Walt Disney, Miyazaki’s influence on the world of anime has been invaluable. From Kiki’s Delivery Service to Howl’s Moving Castle, his directorial works are amongst the best regarded in the genre, serving as inspiration for others. Miyazaki’s most well known film is perhaps 2001’s Spirited Away, which has the distinction of being the sole Japanese movie to have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Though the same announcement has been made many times before, this is likely to be the last. Ryota Fujitsu, a film critic, called the statement “totally understandable.” Miyazaki was a director known for his consistently thorough involvement in his films, regardless of his age. While indeed sad, his stepping down paves the way for new directors to leave their mark...

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Asia Media Podcasts

Asia Media International Staff

ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL is a student-driven publication of Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Media Center – a vital part of LMU’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS), in an alliance with the university's award-winning Dept.of Political Science, and with the influential Pacific Century Institute.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and Executive Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief:
Jay Seo

Aashna Malpani, Yi Ning Wong

Savannah Nunez

Katrina Crosby

Staff Writers [Beat]:
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Kate Barkley [Australia]
Murad Basrawi
Alexis Cruz [Qatar]
Truman Daly
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Bobby Fretz
Ephiphany Hulburd
Diana Jablonski [Malaysia]
Matthew Lange [Asian Profiles,Anime]
Frances Magsalin [Korea/Kpop]
Beth McLaughlin
Rachel Oakes
Hiromi Ochi [Singapore]
Dylan Ramos
Fassa Sar [Film]
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Elizabeth Soelistio [Indonesia]
Nicolas Swaya
C.J. Stone [Japan]

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Emeritus Managing Editors:
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= Sabrina Verduzco
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Kelcey Lorenzo

Contribuing Editors Emeritus:

Robert Dylan Fields
Eriko Lee Katayama
Ryan Lippert
Adrian Narayan [India]
James Royce [Australia]
Miranda Pak [Hong Kong]
Lamiya Shabir [Pakistan & Islam]
Yunfei Suo [China]
Erisa Takeda [Japan Politics]
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Brian Chris Canave
Peyton Cross

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Gareth C.C. Chang, Tom Plate, Jennifer Ramos, Kal Raustiala, Jeremiah Fajardo, Ben Sullivan, Greg Treverton