Jeff Kingston, japantimes.co.jp
In their excellent new book “Sino-Japanese Power Politics” (Palgrave), Giulio Pugliese, a professor at King’s College London, and Aurelio Insisa weigh in on the propaganda skirmishing that has intensified since Japan nationalized the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in 2012. They draw attention to the “battle for shaping the global narrative on Chinese and Japanese behavior,” one that sacrifices history on the altar of nationalism. ...
But in his book, Pugliese also points out that the global media is generally better disposed to Japan, giving it a tremendous advantage. I think that the Japanese government risks losing this edge to the extent that it engages in punitive tactics such as orchestrating the ouster of critical news anchors and embarks on campaigns targeting media groups who expose the charlatans of revisionism.
A lavish new $500 million public diplomacy budget is helping sway global opinion — partly squandered on dreary CNN infomercials — but in my view Japan is not winning the soft power battle through propaganda. Rather, it outshines China through far more generous no-strings-attached funding for scholarly research that respects academic freedom. As an open society allowing unfettered access unimaginable in China, Japan appeals to opinion-makers. Japanese foundations are not keen on funding research critical of the government and society, even though they burnish the nation’s image internationally when they do so. ...
Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan, and the editor of “Press Freedom in Contemporary Japan” (2017).