The “Asian-Hand” Journalists of Japanese Newspapers: Japanese Journalists in between Japan, Korea and China in the 20th Century

Date: 4 June 2018

Professor Tsuchiya’s talk identified several different stages in Japanese newspapers’ engagement with East Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan) during the 20th century, concentrating on two stages in particular: from 1911 to the Manchurian Incident in 1931 (stage two), and from 1931 to the end of WWII in 1945 (stage three). While prior to 1911 most Japanese journalists active on the Asian mainland had not been able to speak Chinese or Korean, during the second stage this would change with many major Japanese newspapers placing Asian-hand correspondents with a stronger language background in China and Korea. Additionally there were several independent Japanese-language newspapers published in China and Korea at this time. This stage is characterised by the close ties the Japanese journalists developed with local intellectuals and journalists, and the diversity of opinions expressed through their reporting. This would change during stage three, when from 1931 Japanese newspapers developed a close alignment with the military, and the work of Japanese “Asian-hand” journalists was to a large extent integrated with that of the military.

 

A clear example of this were two research associations connected to major newspapers and aimed at supporting the goals of the militarists: the “Association for Research of East Asia” founded by Motoyama Hikoichi (Osaka Mainichi Shimbun) in 1929 and the “Association for Research on Problems of East Asia” founded by Ogata Taketora (Tokyo Asahi Shimbun) in 1934. By the late 1930s all major Japanese newspapers had large East Asia sections populated by experienced “Asian-hands” whose reporting was entirely integrated with the war effort. After 1945 these East Asia sections at the newspapers were abolished and their activities largely forgotten. In her conclusion Professor Tsuchiya stressed the importance of questioning why these “Asian-hands” were unable to resist the push towards war, and additionally of contemplating how journalists today can make a more positive contributing to the avoidance of war. Finally Professor Tsuchiya called for the need for further in-depth study of the role of journalism in international relations and international history.

Workshop Poster