NZ media urged to report Japan’s good news story
Mr Takashi Ato (right), who is based at the Japanese Embassy, is concerned about the negative image the media is projecting.
Two kiwis, spoken to by Newswire, say Japanese media is handling it differently, although a third New Zealander remains sceptical about media coverage there.
Mr Ato believes tourists are being scared off, and tourism is a vital source of income for the Japanese economy.
“They are still suffering because of incorrect information”
“The people are suffering because of the bad image of Fukushima [nuclear reactor] portrayed by the media.”
On the anniversary of the disasters earlier this month, the Dominion Post headlined “Japan struggles to escape disasters grip” and “Tsunami survivors still in limbo after ‘wasted’ year”.
Mr. Ato admits the process was slow, but remains optimistic.
“It was not a waste, but it is taking time to recover.”
In Japan’s afflicted areas Mr Ato insists developments are well under way, including the construction of new roads and schools, but the media has taken no notice of the positive information.
Bloomberg news service said this week almost $300 billion is being spent on reconstruction.
Mr Ato is not sure why the media is giving New Zealanders such a ruined image of Japan, although he questions who writes the stories.
“Without your own [New Zealand] correspondents I don’t know how they gather the right, or correct, information.”
The main factor frightening the Japanese people now is the nuclear fallout from the nuclear reaction in Fukushima.
“The rumour is that all of Fukishima is radiation poisoned. This is not true, it is not based on correct information.”
He says nuclear contamination has been contained to the immediate area (20km around the reactor) and the government is doing the best it can to prevent any fallout.
The Japanese government has allocated a large budget to speed the recovery of the areas that need help the most, something the New Zealand media has not focused on.
Mr Ato hopes that New Zealand media will try to grasp the total picture of the recovery.
Perspectives from kiwis in Japan
Katherine Robbie, an English teacher in Tottori, says the English speaking media in Japan carries negative headlines.
However it also includes a far more positive aspect, showing scenes of progress including buildings getting rebuilt and children still going to school.
“The Japanese, as a culture, tend to embrace the idea of national collectiveness – staying strong and working together. In the wake of the tsunami, the message that Japan must carry on and preserve.”
Miss Robbie believes that the Japanese people are recovering very quickly.
“They are pragmatic, hardworking people. I can’t imagine them sitting around wasting time when there are communities to rebuild.”
With the population scared from the nuclear fallout, she says the government is making attempts to minimise any damage in this area also.
“There are lots of stories about the Japanese government introducing food standards and testing for nuclear affected areas.”
Miss Robbie has noticed many signs that the Japanese people have acquitted themselves well following the disaster.
“I know in many areas they are carrying on life as usual.”
A former student in Japan, Selina Christian, who studied in Tokyo during the clean-up in the north of the country, remains positive about the recovery.
“Everyone I spoke to about the disaster said Japan did a very good job of recovering, it was almost instantaneous”
However, Georgina Paskell, an exchange student in Japan, remains sceptical about the government’s salvage attempts.
“The recovery is going to be a long, slow and expensive one.”
Miss Paskell sees both perspectives of the media, admitting the uncertainty of the future has led to low spirits, but that the people, especially the industry, are doing quite well.
“Since the one year anniversary I have noticed many stories of how people are coping, companies are rebuilding and stories on celebrities cheering up victims.”
The general public believes that the nuclear catastrophe was covered quite well, she says.