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Five stories focusing on the Japanese media that you may have missed in 2020:

  • The Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers’ Unions (Minpororen) confirmed that TV Asahi’s union left the organization in the summer. As for why it happened, the media has plenty of ideas, writes Philip Brasor. While the reason was ostensibly money-related, journalists have linked the move to issues of workers’ rights, press freedom and a probe into sexual harassment.
  • Around the same time, Fuji TV admitted that it had a written agreement with cast members of its popular reality show “Terrace House” about how scenes would be staged and shot. While the company insisted there was “no coercion” on its part, the revelation cast new light on the buildup to the apparent suicide death of Hana Kimura, which triggered a massive public outcry.
'Stranger' Season 2 | OFFICIAL TEASER | NETFLIX | THE SWOON
‘Stranger’ Season 2 | OFFICIAL TEASER | NETFLIX | THE SWOON
  • Media giants Fuji TV and Sankei Shimbun apologized for running fake joint opinion polls for about a year until the scandal was revealed back in June. According to Fuji TV officials, a firm was commissioned to conduct telephone surveys on some 1,000 respondents for each poll, but the Kyoto-based subcontractor fabricated about 180 answers for each survey on average without actually making phone calls.
  • In a bumper year for celebrity sex scandals and — as is always the case in Japan when such affairs are revealed — destroyed careers, Media Mix’s Brasor devoted one of his final columns of 2020 to the trend of the media eating its own. Why is it that such scandals in the more prudish U.S. rarely result in wrecked or even temporarily upended careers, whereas in Japan, harsh sanctions are mandated?
  • In his first Media Mix of 2021, Brasor picks his stars of the previous year. No prizes for guessing the media story of the year (it’s very small and spiky) or the media person of 2021 (from the world of sport), but you’re likely to have more trouble predicting Brasor’s choice for “MVP” (unless you enjoy five-hour presentations in Japanese on YouTube) or the most relevant TV drama series (it’s Korean).

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