Welcome to a new series on my blog: Inhae reads the news (in Japanese!).
I will post in this category on the 25th of each month. I will select one or two topics that have caught my attention during the month and choose two or three articles that I would like to study. It is not a monthly news wrap-up, or a summary of the main news, I am just picking topics that particularly interest me.
What I will try to do is to sum up the articles or at least, give some context and explain what they are about. Reading the news might seem daunting, but I always find that the real difficulty lies in the context rather than the language level. Articles often refer to events that readers already know, so it can be tough to climb on the bandwagon.
Then I will select some passages to study. For now, I will just give vocabulary and a loose translation of each sentence.
But keep in mind that I am learning Japanese myself, and sometimes I struggle to understand what I read. In fact, I am doing this to improve my reading level and force me to read difficult texts. As a consequence, it is possible that I make mistakes…
I hope that this series will be useful for those who would like to read the news but find it still difficult!
Note: I mainly use articles that I read on Mainichi.
嫌韓 (けんかん) – Anti-Korean sentiment
嫌韓 (けんかん) means “anti-Korean sentiment” and seems to be booming in Japan since the recent tensions between the two countries, at least according to newspapers like Mainichi or Asahi.
(To sum up the context of these tensions: In 2018, South Korea Supreme Court ordered Japan firms to compensate victims of forced labour during the period of colonisation. Japan considers that this question has been definitely settled with the treaty of 1965. This year, Abe took economic sanctions against South Korea, leading to a large-scale boycott of Japanese products by Koreans.)
At the beginning of October, I saw several articles on the anti-Korean sentiment in Japan. Mainichi pointed out that Japanese television channels purposely broadcasted emissions that would entice anti-Korean sentiment. They do it to gain audience rate and to keep up with other channels.
Let’s have a look at an article published at the end of September. The title of this article is 「嫌韓」あおるテレビよ、これでいいのか クレーム来ないからやりたい放題？ Let’s see what it means:
- あおる: instigate, incite, stimulate, agitate, kindle, inflame
- やりたい放題・ほうだい: as one pleases, at will, to one’s heart’s content.
I always find that titles are hard to understand at first, but they make more sense once one has read the article. Here, it asks television channels if it is really okay to incite anti-Korean sentiment, and to do as they please just because no one complains.
Let’s study what journalist (TBS) Shigenori KANEHIRA (金平茂紀) says in this article:
- 視聴率・しちょうりつ: audience rating (for a TV program for example), viewing rate.
- あおる this word was in the title!
- 政界・せいかい: the political world, political circles
Shigenori KANEHIRA says that TV channels make programs that inflame the antagonism between Japan and Korea or incite anti-Korean sentiment by mocking Korean society and Korean political world.
It is not mentioned explicitly here, but Shigenori KANEHIRA is referring to Korean ex-Justice Minister CHO Kuk who was in the middle of a series of scandal and finally resigned on October 14th. That day, the three Japanese media I have on my phone made breaking news about it. It’s interesting to note that Asahi wrote チョグク in katakana while Mainichi used the kanji 曹国.
I wonder if they would have made an alert for this in normal circumstances. I don’t know if Japanese are usually so interested in Korean politics. It might be that, as stated above, a lot of media have talked about CHO Kuk, so it would be weird to be the only media not alerting the public when he resigned…?
Let’s continue with the article 多様性と冷静さ、取り戻そう 「嫌韓」の空気、青木理さんと考える 政権がお墨付き、あおるメディア . This is a long title, but we can divide it into three parts (separated by a space). We know that the article will be about:
- 多様性・たようせい: diversity, variety
- 冷静な・れいせいな: calm, coolheaded, self-possessed, dispassionate. (-さ transforms the な adjective in noun).
- 取り戻す・とりもどす: take back, regain, recover, restore
- 青木理・あおき おさむ: Osamu AOKI.
- お墨付き・おすみつき: a high official’s stamp of approval. Here it means that the government has (tacitly) given its approval for having anti-Korean thoughts or speech.
- あおる: instigate, incite, stimulate… Media are inflaming people’s anti-korean sentiment.
First, the title says that people should regain a self-possessed and dispassionate attitude, as well as the plurality or diversity (of opinions in the media). Then we will reflect on the atmosphere of anti-Korean sentiment with Osamu AOKI. Finally, it seems that both media and the government incite anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese.
The article interviews Osamu AOKI, journalist, TV commentator and former correspondent in Seoul because he was the target of some harsh criticism on social networks.
In September, a female Japanese tourist was attacked by a Korean man in South Korea. She was violently grabbed by the hair and photos of the attack show that the man had an aggressive attitude. Mainichi says that Japanese media have massively broadcasted images of the attack, especially on television. Invited as commentator on a TV program, Osamu AOKI said that this kind of event would not have been reported by foreign correspondents and broadcasted by Japanese TV if it weren’t for the current state of affairs. He meant by this that an event were the victim has not been seriously injured or killed does not usually qualified to become a topic for news. He said that by broadcasting this event, televisions only inflame anti-Korean sentiment among their audience. Let’s study what he said:
- 邦人・ほうじん: this word is used to talk about Japanese in a foreign country. The Japanese girl who was attacked in Korea is a 邦人.
- 保護・ほご: protection. Together with 邦人, I guess it means something like “protection of nationals abroad” ? But I don’t know if it refers to a specific law.
- 特派員・とくはいん: special correspondent
Osamu AOKI says that special correspondents would write about accidents involving Japanese abroad if they are injured, dead, or if they disappear (in other words, if they fall under the protection of nationals abroad…?). They would not have written about this event normally (普段の状態だったら).
- 報じる・ほうじる: report, inform
- 悪循環・あくじゅんかん: vicious circle
In other words, if news that would not be reported in normal circumstances are reported, it is because of the current period. It becomes a vicious cycle.
- 増幅する・ぞうふく: amplify
- 燃え広がる・もえひろがる: spread to, extend itself
Here, Osamu AOKI explains what he means by “vicious circle”: if TV commentators in Japan and Korea say things that amplify anti-Korean sentiment, it will only spread further (it will create an atmosphere that will encourage TV to broadcast programs that incite this sentiment further).
- 本来なら: properly, by rights.
- 注目する・ちゅうもく: pay attention to
Osamu AOKI concludes that if events that should not have become news receive so much attention, it will only deteriorate the relations between Japan and South Korea.
Conclusion: This assault had become viral on social networks and a lot of Koreans have apologised for it. The question is whether TV channels should have broadcasted it as much as they did or make programs around it. Obviously, seeing the images of the assault again and again can only incite anti-Korean sentiment. The conclusion of the article is that media should be more careful and should not encourage hatred or antagonism. Another point of concern is that right-wing magazines published a lot of articles against Korea along with articles on Japanese politicians. This gives the impression that Abe and the Japanese government tacitly approve anti-Korean articles.
あいちトリエンナーレ2019 – Aichi Triennale 2019
Aichi Triennale is an important arts festival that takes place in Nagoya every three years.
This year, a part of the exhibition called 表現の不自由展・その後 had to close just three days after the opening of the festival. This exhibition displayed artworks that were once censored in Japan, hence the title 表現の不自由展・その後 . The most sensible works in this exhibition are a work representing a comfort woman (similar to the statues displayed in South Korea), and one representing an image of emperor Hirohito being burned.
Daisuke TSUDA, the artistic director of the festival, decided to close the exhibition after receiving threats, including threats of terrorist nature.
However, the exhibition 表現の不自由展・その後 (often called simply 不自由展) has reopened for one week before the end of the festival. Visitors were selected by lottery and had to follow a guided tour through the exhibition. They were also forbidden to share photos of the exhibition on social networks.
Let’s see how Mainichi describes this re-opening in an editorial. The title of the editorial is 「表現の不自由展」再開 それでもなお課題は残る . They announce the re-opening of the exhibition but say that problems remain.
- 考慮する・こうりょ: consider, take sth into consideration, take sth into account, give thought to.
- やむを得ず・やむをえず: unavoidably, necessarily, inevitably
- 措置・そち: measure, step.
Talking about the closing of the exhibit, the article says that it was an inevitable measure to ensure the security of the visitors and people working there. (more literally: taking into consideration the security of the visitors and persons related, it was a necessary measure).
- 脅す・おどす: threaten
- 催し・もよおし: meeting, gathering (here: event)
- あしき: bad. It’s easier to remember this word if you know that it is also written 悪しき.
- 前例・ぜんれい: precedent.
- verb -ます stem + かねない = something bad might happen.
If things had remained like that (if the exhibit had stayed closed) it would/could have created a (bad) precedent showing that if there is an event that you don’t like, you could force it to close by using threat.
I am assuming that this Japanese sentence expresses what you call in English the third conditional, but I am not sure. I am also not used to seeing かねない in the past tense… But translated like that, this sentence makes sense so…
- 暴力・ぼうりょく: violence
- …に屈する・くっする: yield to, submit to, give in to, succumb to…
- 姿勢・しせい: posture, position, attitude.
- 示す・しめす: show, display
- 評価する・ひょうか: value, estimate, rate, recognise, appreciate, acknowledge the value of.
Adopting an attitude that does not succumb to violence (meaning = the decision to re-open the exhibition in spite of the threats) is worth praising.
I am not sure but I think that the word 点 implies that “on this point”, we can praise the organisators, but that on other points, problems remain (as the title says).
Now let’s move to another article. During the whole week during which the exhibition was reopened, authors and artists involved in the exhibition held a hotline to answer questions and complaints (and sometimes, receive encouraging words!) by the public. This is what I would like to study here. The article is called 不自由展抗議電話最長1時間半 作家グループが目指す対話の可能性とは 電話窓口ルポ . Once again, a rather long title that we can divide into three parts:
- 不自由展・ふじゆうてん: this refers to the exhibition in question. The whole name is 表現の不自由展・その後 .
- 抗議・こうぎ: protest, protestation, complaint
- 目指す・めざす: adm at, have sth in view
- ルポ: reportage (ルポルタージュ)
The article will be a reportage on the call center (meaning that the journalist actually went there and saw them work, it’s not just an article about it). We will learn more about the possibility of dialogue that the group of authors is looking for. And we learn that a conversation can last for one and a half hour.
- 発案する・はつあん: suggest, propose, make a suggestion. This is the kind of word whose meaning you can easily guess if you know the kanji.
- 演出家・えんしゅつか: artistic director (film, radio, TV).
- 再開する・さいかい: reopen (it refers to the re-opening of the exhibition). Here again, it’s easy to guess the meaning if you know the kanji.
- 開設する・かいせつ: establish, set up, start, open. It refers to the establishment of the call center.
- 計・けい: in total, in all.
Akira TAKAYAMA is a theatre director. He belongs to the group of authors who proposed to create the call center. He says that since the opening of the call center on October 8th (which is the day of the re-opening of the exhibition) they have received 482 calls in three days (until October 10th).
- 回線・かいせん: a communication channel. Here: a telephone line.
- 交代・こうたい: change places, switch places, relieve (a shift), change (the guard). Here it means that the 30 authors relay each other, they don’t work all at the same time.
There are 5 phone lines, and around 30 authors who relay each other to take the calls.
On the first day, they received 307 calls and could only answer 20/30% of them. On October 10th, they received 70 calls and were able to answer more than 70% of them.
To be honest, I have struggled a little with this sentence (maybe my brain automatically freezes when I see numbers?). It is the 70件で that I misunderstood. I thought it meant that on the 10th, they had answered 70 calls. In my head, the sentence meant: “They were only able to answer 20/30% of the 307 calls they received on the first day. On the 10th, however, with 70 calls answered, they have been able to answer more than 70% of the total calls.” It was possible in terms of numbers, but it would have been a weird way of putting it.
- 少女像・しょうじょぞう: Statue of Peace (representing comfort women). Here it refers to the artwork displayed in the exhibition.
- 昭和天皇・しょうわてんのう: Emperor Hirohito (Showa). Here again, it refers to an artwork.
- 抗議・こうぎ: protest, protestation, complaint.
Akira TAKAYAMA says that a lot of people called to complain about the statue of peace and the Showa emperor (the works that I mentioned above). Several people have said they have felt emotionally wounded by it.
Conclusion: There have been a lot of discussions around the Aichi Triennale: was it closed for security concern or was it censorship? But I was very surprised to read about this call center. It is highly admirable that the authors and artists have found a way to talk with the public, answer criticism and build a dialogue. The article says that some conversations could last one and a half hour!
I thought the boycott and anti sentiment in both Korea and Japan is a one time thing so I was surprised to see that the situation has worsen. I saw on Twitter this week that the joint LCC airline between Japan and Korea offer a round trip flight with the price of 2000 yen due to low passenger. Hope everything will get better soon.
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Thank you for your comment! I was surprised too because I knew that there are anti-Japanese sentiment and demonstrations in Korea (where I live now), but I didn’t know that it was the same in Japan before reading these articles.
Apparently Moon Jae-in has written a letter to Abe so let’s hope something good will come out of it. In any case I went to Uniqlo (which was heavily boycotted by Koreans) just this afternoon, and I was surprised to see it filled with customers. Maybe Koreans are slowly giving up the boycott? Anyway, I hope that things will get better soon!
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Great article, looking forward to more in this series!
One thing I would suggest is to make a guess at a translation for each Japanese sentence you describe. You sort of did this, but it seems that some of them are paraphrases or explanations instead of translations. If you put them in in double quotes it will be easy to match up with the text (especially for people like me who are just skimming).
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Thank you very much for your suggestion! It’s a good idea, I will do that for the next post in this series! I didn’t feel confident enough in my translation abilities, so I used paraphrases or explanations instead… but translating will be a good way to improve my Japanese and English!