James Farrer

The high expectation of Japanese media on the effects of the Beijing Olympics fell flat, writes sociologist James Farrer from Tokyo in Policy Innovations:

Influenced by Japan’s own postwar experience, columnists ask whether the Beijing Olympics will serve the purpose of integrating China into global society, in the same way achieved by the former Axis powers in the postwar Rome, Tokyo, and Munich Olympics, and later by Seoul in 1988. Most answer negatively.

In a few ways the Japanese media had a different viewpoint than the international English-language media, says Farrer:

Japanese media reports seem at the same time more critical and less condescending than their U.S. counterparts. Japanese seem to expect more of their giant neighbor but are also far more fearful and skeptical of it. This dynamic is especially evident in the profound mistrust in Japan’s mainstream media toward Chinese political leadership and the insistence by some conservative Japanese commentators that China is headed for a severe economic downturn. These pessimistic economic predictions are significant if only because Japan is the largest foreign investor in China, which is now Japan’s largest export market. Of course, Japan’s reports also say a great deal about Japan’s own obsessions, including concerns about Japan’s declining vitality and status in comparison with its increasingly powerful and affluent “neighboring country” (a term frequently used in Japanese media).

James Farrer is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau, focusing on sino-Japanese relations and other contemporary issues in China. His main focus is on the sexual revolution in China and Japan.

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