Everyone agrees 2016 was a terrible year, and not just because so many popular celebrities died. In addition to the wars, both hot and rhetorical, that continue unabated throughout the world, the political situation in Europe and America veered toward isolationism. Hatred ruled, and no resentments were as sharp as those leveled at the mass media. There is a pointed distrust of the press, over and beyond the prevalence of “fake news,” but how these biases manifest themselves is different depending on which side of the ideological divide you occupy. The situation applies in Japan, too, though in a more muted way. The problem here has more to do with what the media — on both sides of the divide and for various self-serving reasons — leave out; which isn’t to say you can’t get at some sort of truth, but you’ve got to dig.

Much was made about a new law to curb hate speech, though not a lot of curbing was accomplished, since the law has no effective penalties attached. On the one hand, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was said to have passed the bill against its will, as a sop to people who believe the targeting of marginalized groups, such as resident Koreans by nationalist extremists, constitutes a human rights abuse. On the other hand, some think the LDP pushed the bill as a means of stifling its ideological opponents.

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