the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
How News about Japan is Delivered to the World and English-Speakers Living in Japan
A few decades ago, a lot of media companies established a bureau in Tokyo as a base for Asian news coverage. However, quite a few have now moved their bureau to other cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Beijing. One of the reasons for this is that the importance of news on Japan is decreasing in accordance with the declining Japanese economy. The high cost rent and personal expenses might be other causes of this. However, the importance of Japanese news begins to increase because of the recovery of the Japanese economy and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics Games. In view of this, I investigated and interviewed staff at several media institutions and companies to learn how news about Japan is delivered to the world and to English-speakers living in Japan.
One of the most important organizations among those that distribute news about Japan to the world is the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Since 1945 the FCCJ has been at the center of Japanese news coverage and has been an essential platform for politicians, diplomats, industrial and business leaders, academics and figures from the arts, sports and entertainment worlds - that is, the people who make the news.
Japanese journalists are sometimes criticized for their “Kisha-Kurabu” or press clubs, whose
membership has historically been tightly restricted to reporters who work for major
Japanese newspapers, TV stations and wire-service companies. Most of the clubs
don’t allow questions from outsiders, like foreign or independent journalists,
and even now some of these latter aren’t allowed to attend press conferences.
In Japan most press conferences are sponsored by press clubs, so it’s difficult
for foreign correspondents to cover Japan on a regular basis.
However, the FCCJ opens its door to every foreign and Japanese journalist. At present the FCCJ has about 2,200 members, including around 300 regular journalists from about 25 countries. Around 70 percent of the journalists are from Western countries, including some from big media organizations such as the BBC and CNN. They report news on Japan back to their countries.
holds news conferences 150 times a year on average. This is convenient for
foreign correspondents, who usually cover a wider area and range of genres than
Japanese reporters in Japan. The efficient staffs at the FCCJ are always ready
to provide assistance, including interpretation services, to club members.
There are usually, about 20 translators available.
Interest in Japan from international media has been growing towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The FCCJ has started a new business in corporation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that involves inviting reporters from overseas to visit Tokyo, and to report their views and experiences in their countries’ media. “It’s a good opportunity to promote Tokyo and Japan,” said the FCCJ Reception Manager Michiko Kobayashi, who is in charge of this project. Current FCCJ member Dr. Yoshio Murakami, who is former international news editor at Ashahi Shimbun and worked as a foreign correspondent, said “Freedom of expression or freedom of press is the most important for journalists. Club members expressing that the merit of the FCCJ is you can always ask questions freely to the people who make the news”.
Several international organizations for journalists help them to cover news about Japan. Asian American Journalists Association, which is a nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 1,700 members, offers a variety of educational, skills training and professional development program for its students and professional members, according to its Internet site. ICFJ or International Center for Journalists provides opportunity for journalists to report on Japan. Three U.S.-based journalists will be selected for about 20-day reporting trips in Japan, to be conducted throughout the summer and fall of this year, in the third year of IFJ’s “Illuminating Today’s Japan for American Audiences” program. According to ICFJ’s article, they will work with a Japanese interpreter and fixer, and are expected to dig into the economic, social, cultural, environmental and energy-policy challenges facing Japan. Former participants have produced stories for media including McClatchy, NPR, Al Jazeera America and more.
The Japanese TV Stations
The Japanese media organization that most emphasizes international broadcasting is Nippon Hoso Kyokai, or NHK, which is a public TV broadcaster funded by wide range of programs not only at home but also abroad. NHK’s audience is the second largest in the world. A total of 280 million households around the world watch NHK WORLD, lower than the BBC’s 350 million but surpassing the 271 million viewers of CNN, and the 270 million of France24. NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN is a radio service with broadcasts in 18 languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Persian and Russian.
Other private TV stations emphasize international broadcasting programs and systems. Recently Fuji Media Holdings Inc., which has the Fuji TV station, contracted some big translation companies to promote programs around 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Japanese Newspapers
There are two major English-language newspapers in Japan, the Japan Times and the Japan News. The Japan Times publishes English version, but the Japan News is published by the Yomiuri Shimbun, and has circulation of about 10 million. The Japan Times was founded in 1897 and is today Japan’s only independent English-language newspaper. Known as the Daily Yomiuri until it was renamed in April 2013, the Japan News draws on the Yomiuri’s global news-gathering network to present the latest developments in a wide variety of domestic and international areas. The Japan Times cooperates with the New York Times, while Japan News cooperates with the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Other major Japanese newspaper companies such as Ashahi Shimbun, which is a leading newspaper in Japan, and Mainich Shimbun, run English articles only on the Internet, although both used to publish a paper version.