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Japan: Media Bias in Potato Field Eviction?

Images appearing on Japanese TV on October 16th of government forces evicting crying nursery school children from potato fields in Osaka, part of plans to extend a highway (the Second Keihan Highway) between Kyoto and Osaka, has sparked many on the Japanese net to respond with accusations of media bias. Kitasumoto Nursery [ja] in Kadoma, who once owned the fields but had them forcefully expropriated by the Osaka prefecture government, had plans for the end of October to dig up potatoes that had been planted in May of this year [ja]. The face-to-face confrontation that ensued, with nursery teachers and children on one side and government forces sent in to evacuate the area on the other, had all the elements of a made-for-TV drama. Osaka Governor Tōru Hashimoto has claimed that the children's tears were used as a ploy in the confrontation.

Blogger rollcabbage agrees with Governor Hashimoto's move:

第二京阪道路をつくることについて
意見の違いはもちろんあるだろうけど
抗議するにしても
もっとましな方法があるだろうに。

There are of course differences of opinion regarding the construction of the Second Keihan Highway,
but even if you are going to protest about it, there are better ways to do it.

橋下府知事にはときどき
「あれ?」と思わされることもあるけど
この件に関しては100%支持する。
ネットを見て回っても
府知事を支持する声が多い。

Governer Hashimoto sometimes does things that make me think, “Huh?”,
but in this case I support him 100%.
Looking around the net, it seems that there are many people voicing support for him there as well.

At tantei-tiu, another blogger makes a similar observation [ja]:

このニュース、最初にテレビで見たんですが
まあ、橋下さんも酷いことするなぁ。と思ったもんです。

I saw this news first on TV, and thought to myself, wow, [Governor] Hashimoto is doing terrible things.

でも、いろいろ見てると、なんかそうでもないみたいですね。
保育園側が悪いような・・・。
なんて思うようになってしまいました。

But looking around, that doesn't really seem to be the case.
Seems like it's the nursery school that's in the wrong…
that's what I'm starting to think.

ってかね、報道の仕方に問題があるように思えますね。

Or I should say, it's in the way [this story] has been covered that there are problems.

At Smoky Quartz Forest, one blogger remarks [ja]:

ニュースで伝えたときは、まるで大阪府側が理不尽に立ち退きを要求するような伝え方しかしなかったし、「何故立ち退きを要求されたのか」についても軽く触れた程度でしかない。
まさにマスコミと所有者側が、大阪府と橋本知事をメディアと言う力で嵌めているとしか思えない伝え方に聞こえる。

When it was broadcast in the news, it was made to look as if the eviction demand by the Osaka prefectural government was unreasonable, and [the question of] “why have they demanded that they be evicted?” only received minor attention.
The way the story is being portrayed, one has to imagine that the mass media and the owners are using the power of the media to pigeonhole the Osaka prefectural government and governor Hashimoto.

俺がこのニュースで浮かんだ疑問としては、何故立ち退きが分かっている土地で、作物を植えたのかいうことである。
普通ならそんなところは避けるし、俺ならば別の土地を探して借りる。
結局は行政潰しの計画的な謀略としか言えないので、幼稚園側を擁護する気は皆無。

The question that came to my mind when watching this news was, why were they planting produce in land that they knew would have to be vacated?
Normally, you would avoid a place like that, if it were me I would look for another plot of land to rent.
In the end, I can only see this as some kind of systematic strategy to destroy the administration, and so I have no interest in defending the nursery school.

Blogger hitonochikara questions the story [ja] of “authority trampling over children's spirits” as presented in news reports:

本当にそうですか?府が用地買収を開始したのは平成15年と言います。府と保育園が5年間かけた結果が子供達を泣かすことですか?少なくとも野菜の植え付け時期に保育園側は、こうなることは予見できたはずです。その畑に何故イモを植えたのですか?仮に予見できなかったとして、保育園が行政代執行の通知を受け取ってからの10日間、いったい何をしていたのですか?

Is this really true? The prefectural government says that it began its acquisition of the site back in 2003. Is a result that the prefectural government and the nursery school [worked out] over 5 years something that should make children cry? At the very least, the nursery school could have foreseen that this would happen during the period that it was planting vegetables. Why did they plant potatoes in those fields? Even if we suppose that they could not have predicted what would happen, what in the world was the nursery school doing in the ten days after they were notified about the eviction?

In a popular post on the topic, blogger KoshianX analyzes an article on the topic published in Sankei [ja] and makes a similar observation:

この記事がいろいろひどいと思った。何がひどいって大阪府がいたいけな子供を泣かせてるというストーリーで書かれてて、あまりに一方的すぎて素直に読めば「橋本知事ひどい!」になるし、うがって見れば「保育園あやしい政治団体みたいだな」になりがち。

I found this article horrible in so many ways. The reason I felt this way is that the story that is written here, about the Osaka prefectural government as making innocent children cry, is just too one-sided; if you take it as it is written, you just have to think, “Governer Hashimoto is horrible!”, but if you dig deeper, you come out [thinking], “This nursery school seems just like a suspicious political organization.”

Comments on 2-Channel expressed similar sentiments. In an early comment, one person writes:

3 名前: 韓国外相(東京都) :2008/10/16(木) 11:51:25.36 ID:XFrZVa+b
画像のガキ見たら府の判断はいいとおもった

Looking at the bratty kids in the video, I thought the government made the right decision.

Others questioned the moves by the daycare:

10 名前: 四柱推命鑑定士(神奈川県) :2008/10/16(木) 11:52:59.00 ID:uJD1SyPq
そもそもなんでそんなややこしいことが起こる場所に畑なんか作ってたんだよ

What are they doing in the first place planting fields in a place where there will be such confusion going on?

13 名前: 嫌煙派(福岡県) :2008/10/16(木) 11:53:45.84 ID:Gg+lDFTH
いやマジでなんで2週間前倒しでイモ掘りやらなかったの?
随分前から通知されえてるはずだが

Seriously, why didn't they dig up the potatoes two weeks ahead of schedule?
They were notified about [what was going to happen] a while ago.

Finally, one commenter makes a suggestion:

14 名前: 9条教徒(鹿児島県) :2008/10/16(木) 11:53:57.68 ID:F9qMgyq7
芋買ってきて別の畑に埋めて子供に掘らせればいいんじゃね?

Couldn't they have just bought some potatoes, planted them in a different field and had the children dig those up?

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