Conventional wisdom has it that there’s a lot of distrust between China and Japan. There’s also a lot of distrust between Japan and Korea (North and South). And there are Chinese-Korean relations (North and South) which aren’t that easy to characterize.
For ordinary people, there seem to be two worlds. There’s the real world, where you meet people – when travelling for work, and when travelling for fun.
And there’s the internet world.
The difference between these two worlds: the internet is highly politicized. That has been true for the printed press, too, but it never seemed to influence people as much as does the online world. Maybe the internet gives people the feeling that they play a role of their own in shaping it. This may actually be true. But the internet is shaping them in turn. When experienced, skilled propagandists and agenda sellers appear on the scene, frequently unrecognized and unrecognizable, chances are that they will manufacture consent or dissent, according to their goals, commercial or political.
Newspaper articles have always angered people, even in pre-digital times. Once in a while, someone would actually put pen or typewriter to paper and write a letter to the editor – in the evening, or whenever he or she found the time. But more frequently, the anger would evaporate within minutes or hours. There would be no visible reader’s reaction.
The internet is quite different. Once people have joined a discussion (which is easy to do), they will stay involved for quite a while, at least mentally.
A dumb headline is enough to create a shitstorm. Try How to date Japanese women who haven’t been exposed to radiation, published by the South Korean publication „Maxim“. According to this report by the Global Post, Korean readers were quick to point [that headline] out as inappropriate given the sensitive nature of Japan’s continuing recovery after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima disaster. But obviously, once someone is offended, this isn’t good enough, and the offended themselves need to speak out, too.
But there were messages from the real world, too:
I’m amazed that the mass media is able to link any article to anti-Japanese sentiment, regardless of what the incident is.
What a spoilsport.
Some statistics: the Maxim editor-in-chief reportedly apologized twice. The first apology was – reportedly – widely read as another attack on Japanese dignity, rather than a real apology.
Therefore, a second apology from the editor-in-chief was needed. It still didn’t seem to read like a sincere apology. Hence, it caught more than 130 Japanese comments in one day.
Is that a lot, or is it marginal? The Japanese who wrote those over 130 comments didn’t need to speak or write Korean. Their debate was hosted by the electronic version and the Japanese-language version of the JoonAng Ilbo, one of South Korea’s top three influential newspapers, Japan Today reported on Wednesday.
Was this a worthwhile story? And how many of the Japanese who commented there were actually Japanese women?
Thanks for your time, dear reader.