2019 Volume 2 Pages 15-27
Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics is bringing the attention of global media and the world more than the country has experienced since the economic bubble years of the last century. NHK, Japan’s quasi-official broadcaster, is ratcheting up its world service in advance of this international spotlight, which is consequently bringing more attention to the country’s low press freedom ranking, last among the Group of Seven industrialized nations, and 67 among 180 nations and regions, according to Reporters Without Borders. This ranking places Japan above Lesotho and below El Salvador. The Shinzo Abe administration and other government officials are often at odds with press coverage that is critical of the government, reinforced by no public debate on the 2013 state secrets protection law and a unilateral cabinet decision in 2014 to change the pacifist nature of the Constitution of Japan. This chapter will explore the press and politics environment of modern Japan, specifically NHK’s role as an enabler network to the needs and whims of the government. Finally, it will underscore the challenges faced by the Abe administration’s global nation branding efforts against the backdrop of international attention and criticism of Japan’s press-government relations.