Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The rapidly changing world media and challenges for Japan
AKASAKA Kiyotaka / President of the Nippon Communications Foundation, Former UN Under-Secretary-General

December 1, 2023
The global media landscape is currently undergoing rapid changes at a breathtaking pace. While there is a saying that “a decade ago seems ancient history,” entirely new phenomena unfold nowadays within just five years, rendering old norms obsolete. For instance, technologies like ChatGPT, which emerged just about a year ago, have quickly spread worldwide. Keeping up with this frenetic pace requires individuals with flexible minds and a challenging spirit. Judging from the current behavior patterns of young people worldwide, it is evident that the future of the media industry will be spearheaded by the Internet and social media.

In Japan, young people have become less inclined to read newspapers. According to a survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2022, over 80% of people from their teens to their fifties use the Internet, while newspapers are read by less than 3% of the twenties and below and around 6% of the thirties. A nationwide media survey conducted by the Japan Press Research Institute in the summer of 2023 revealed that the highest rates of reading or hearing news were attributed to "commercial television," followed by "the Internet," "NHK television," "newspapers," and "radio news" in that order.

Overseas as well, the decline of newspapers is striking. According to a survey conducted by the Japan Press Research Institute at the end of 2022, people in the United States and China primarily acquire news from the Internet, while in Thailand, social media (such as Facebook) takes the lead, and in the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea, television is the primary source. In the United States, China, South Korea, and Thailand, newspapers lag behind the Internet, social media, and television.

While numerous media outlets in Japan communicate in English to the world, such as NHK World and The Japan Times, their influence on the global stage is unfortunately still lower compared to major Western media. In the 1980s, when Japan was booming with the bubble economy, the eyes of the world were naturally directed towards Japan. However, more than 30 years have passed since then, and such a situation no longer holds. Unless Japan actively makes added efforts for outbound information dissemination, interest in Japan will continue to wane, posing a significant risk to Japan's international soft power.

To strengthen Japan's external communication, the use of online information and social media has become essential. Major institutions currently responsible for external information dissemination include the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ), the Japan Press Club, the Foreign Press Center Japan (FPCJ), Nippon.com, and the website "Japan in Their Own Words" (JITOW) of the English-Speaking Union of Japan (ESUJ) which has been sharing opinions of experts in various fields since 2000.

Strengthening these institutions is vital for enhancing Japan's soft power in external communications. Additionally, fostering individuals who can accurately explain Japan in English and providing media training for them is essential. More talented individuals, like Mariko Oi, the first Japanese reporter and presenter on BBC Television, are needed. Furthermore, individuals capable of utilizing social media freely for widespread global communication are crucial. With technologies like DeepL and ChatGPT, the language translation barrier has been significantly reduced, making it easier and faster to translate Japanese into foreign languages.

Given the situation, the remaining challenge lies in our mindset. It makes an enormous difference whether you are ready to pluck up the courage to catch up with the breathtakingly changing dynamics with, or whether you react with rejection, giving up on any hope of progress. Certainly, the pleasure of waking up in the morning and unfolding the morning paper to find out what is happening in the world may be irreplaceable for you. However, if you stop there, you will risk joining the group of endangered species of extinction.

Recently, more and more people are using platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., to share new information. The content varies from fresh events to daily life, food and meal details, and travel experiences with family and friends. Those who engage in such activities are undoubtedly riding the high waves of the zeitgeist, and they are harbingers of new types of information dissemination. Indeed, the use of social media to defame and slander others is unacceptable. However, it is hoped that among these pioneering individuals, talent will emerge to lead Japan's future soft power of external communication.

Kiyotaka Akasaka is the President of the Nippon Communications Foundation and former United Nations Under-Secretary-General.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

赤阪 清隆 / 公益財団法人ニッポンドットコム理事長

2023年 12月 1日


海外でも、新聞の凋落が目立っている。新聞通信調査会が2022年末に実施した調査によれば、米国、中国はインターネットからのニュースの入手が一番で、タイではSNS(フェイスブックなど)、英、仏、韓国はテレビが第一位だ。米、中、韓、タイでは、新聞は、インターネット、SNS, テレビの後塵を拝した。











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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The rapidly changing world media and challenges for Japan