Historically, Japanese news brands have been influential and widely trusted. However, since 2011 the level of trust has been declining.
The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in March 2011 saw people question the facts and credibility of the reporting on the incident. It was widely believed that journalists failed to press industry and government officials for better information, especially as official reports repeatedly turned out to be incomplete or simply wrong.
Whilst freedom of the press is guaranteed in the country’s constitution, self-censorship has recently increased with journalists experiencing harassment and intimidation at an official level. With continued new allegations of plagiarism and false information, people remain ill at ease over what is and isn’t good journalism. However, compared to many other major countries, issues with fake news remain relatively small in Japan, whilst such content can appear via messaging platforms, these do not dominate Japan’s domestic media.
Japan has a dynamic broadcast sector. Five terrestrial TV networks are led by NHK, which is largely funded from licence fees and remains important despite wide subscription to satellite and cable TV services. WBS (World Business Satellite) news, provided by TV Tokyo, is both influential and popular with audiences.
Asia has the edge when it comes to digital and social media. In Japan, some 118 million – or 94 per cent – were online by 2017. However, despite the associated slump in newspaper circulation experienced in other countries, readership in Japan remains high (among the highest in the world) with 40 million copies sold each day.
Those consumers of news that do opt for online content are found swiping to Yahoo! for largely aggregated or broadly recycled content. Nikkei, which owns the FT, now has half a million subscribers, whilst BuzzFeed (Japan) – working with Yahoo – has increased audiences.
Japanese users often prefer to remain anonymous in their activity on social media, which is evidenced in their reluctance to sign up to LinkedIn and similar platforms. The world’s leading social media platform, Facebook, is only the third most popular social network in Japan, behind YouTube and Line – and for news it is beaten by Twitter.
As an island nation, the Japanese have a strong affinity with the maritime sector and maritime stories can attract significant attention.
A crisis response must articulate clearly what’s important by engaging the trusted channels that the public takes notice of. It must provide factual news content – timely information explaining the situation, what’s happened and what’s being done about it – to these trusted channels in a way which will resonate with local audiences.
Failure to engage effectively with the correct channels often leads to public distrust and cynicism, which in turn increases critical interest in the incident, often leading to higher costs and a damaged reputation.
Star Marine Public Relations is pleased to join the Navigate Response Network to provide Japanese support to international maritime companies and to provide Japanese companies with access to the leading maritime communications network. Star Marine PR supports leading Japanese and international companies including: ship owners and managers, offshore, ports, IT providers and national academic institutions.
Managing Director, Maki Yoshida, has more than 20 years’ experience in the maritime and PR industries. Her team will be able to deliver access to both Tokyo-based international journalists and top national media outlets for Navigate’s client companies. A thorough local knowledge of Japan’s complex media culture will be a valuable asset with the Network firmly anchored in the Far East.