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Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008


English-language papers offer unique take on Asia

Staff writer

English-language newspapers in East Asia provide unique perspectives on political, economic and cultural news in the region to a global community where English is the dominant tongue, speakers at a Tokyo symposium said Saturday.

News photo
Panelists at a symposium held Saturday at the University of Tokyo discuss challenges facing English-language newspapers in East Asia. The panelists were (from left) Sayuri Daimon of The Japan Times, Kim Hoo Ran of The Korea Herald, Amber Chang of The Taipei Times, Kang Myung Koo of the Seoul National University, Dennis Peng of the National Taiwan University, and Kaori Hayashi of the University of Tokyo. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTO

The symposium, organized jointly by The Japan Times and the University of Tokyo, was aimed at exchanging opinions on the roles English-language newspapers play in promoting globalization in East Asia.

"Newspapers written in their mother languages usually tend to lean over to a conservative and nationalist approach on various issues," said Kaori Hayashi, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Tokyo.

But English-language newspapers in East Asia, such as The Korea Herald, The Taipei Times and The Japan Times, cover the news from a different perspective compared with their vernacular counterparts, Hayashi said.

Kim Hoo Ran, an editorial writer for The Korea Herald, said the Herald focuses on news that affects the expatriate and diplomatic communities, as well as issues concerning migrant workers in South Korea, whose numbers have been growing in recent years.

Sayuri Daimon, national news editor at The Japan Times, said the daily has run features, for example, on Japan's new immigration policy, which requires foreign residents to be fingerprinted upon entering Japan. Most Japanese newspapers provided less coverage, she said.

"We did stories on how the law would affect the human rights of foreigners in Japan," said Daimon, who added that other aspects, such as how the new law conflicts with the government's efforts to boost tourism in Japan, were also covered.

Other participants included Amber Chang, editor in chief of The Taipei Times, Kang Myung Koo, a professor of communication studies at Seoul National University, and Denis Peng, director of the Graduate Institute of Journalist and Multimedia Production Center at National Taiwan University.

In the keynote speech, Michel Temman, Japan representative for Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based defender of the freedom of the press, criticized the exclusive nature of Japan's journalism culture.

Temman said the "press club" system, set up in government offices and political party headquarters where only major media organizations are allowed to join, hinders foreign and freelance journalists from gathering information.

"Despite harsh criticism from foreign correspondents and other foreign organizations, the Japanese government shows no interest in reforming this archaic system," Temman said.

Detailed coverage of the symposium, held to commemorate The Japan Times' 110th anniversary and the University of Tokyo's 130th anniversary, will be published on March 1 (March 2 in some areas).

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