News and Insights

Media and Activists Creating False Narrative

Miyane-ya, Kito, Suzuki building false narrative

Media giving ample space to hostile activists to build up false narrative of religious minority

What was the reporting intended to convey? Report with data on the hounding of the Unification Church

Part 4 of a presentation by Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏), writer, author and  and photographer, at a symposium on the theme “Why Did Reporting Go Astray? Thorough Examination by Journalists on Reporting on the Former Unification Church”, (organized by UPF-Japan) held 20th January 2024 in Tokyo to investigate the media’s continued coverage persecuting the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly known as the Unification Church).

See part 1Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’”, see part 2, part 3, part 5

Media and false narrative
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

The upper graph shows that the interest in donations and the relationship between the religious organisation and politicians peaked in July 2022 and then subsided. Generally, people were initially satisfied with the information about donations up to July and the information about politicians. Therefore, the interest was expected to change to, “Donations? So what?” and “Connections to politicians? So what?”

However, as mentioned earlier the various news organisations did not report what happened to politics and society because of those connections. It could also be said that it was impossible to explain because there was no content to explain. Now, regarding the lower graph, it shows the trend of the number of searches related to the news and talk show Miyane-ya [ミヤネ屋 – a show on Yomiuri TV], which continuously featured Eito Suzuki (鈴木エイト) and Masaki Kito (紀藤正樹) [both leading anti-religious activists hostile to Family Federation]. Even though people already had their convictions [that the connections between the Unification Church and the LDP were not so scandalous], the program spent several months from the end of July building a narrative that “the church controls Japanese politics.”

From the end of July to September 2023, Miyane-ya achieved high viewership ratings. However, interest in Miyane-ya peaked in December when the host, Seiji Miyane (宮根誠司), contracted COVID-19. (Laughter)

As for the popular Eito Suzuki, he sparked strange speculations during a press conference of Johnny’s [ジャニーズ – about a big scandal of sexual abuse of boys], faced lawsuits, and on a debate show on TV, he got into a clash with Tsuneyasu Takeda [竹田恒泰 – political commentator, author and businessman, male descendant of the imperial family]. The viewership ratings for Miyane-ya reached its highest peak in October 2023.

Media and scandals
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

Both are typical examples of how interest is generated by scandal-driven events. The interest in scandalous matters can be seen as the true nature of the frenzy surrounding the story of “the church controlling Japan”. It seems to reflect the essence of expectations towards the program and Suzuki. There was a tremendous commotion, and one could say it was a frenzy.

As for Masaki Kito, it seems that he was only expected to be a narrator of scandalous topics. Moriyama, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, said that the Unification Church caused anxiety and confusion to many people, but the reality was different.

The small segment of society who was fervent about the Unification Church were, for example, those who improved the viewership ratings of Miyane-ya, the producer of scandalous stories, from a previous 5% to 7% during the period of sensationalist reporting.

In the example of Miyane-ya, it would be easier to understand if you consider that about 2 to 3.5% of all households were impassioned by it, as shown in the slide.

Media frenzy
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

Let’s summarize it separately. This slide summarizes how a media frenzy led to social division and human rights violations.

As a result of a minority’s interests and fervor creating an illusion of overwhelming consensus, society has been perceived as shrouded in anxiety, leading to the dissolution order, violations of believers’ human rights, and social division. As is evident from this, it is natural to understand that the religious organisation controlled neither the Liberal Democratic Party nor Japanese society.

Recently, there have been voices expressing concerns about the way the media operates. Individuals such as Hikaru Ota (太田光さ), who criticized forced de-conversion and abduction in a TV program, and Rika Matsumoto (松本璃花), the third daughter of Shoko Asahara [麻原彰晃 – founder and leader of Aum Shinrikyo], are not believers, but they were involved as members of society.

Continued in part 5.

See part 1Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’”, see part 2, part 3, part 5

Featured image above: Top: The logo of Miyane-ya. Bottom left: Masaki Kito, photo: Screenshot / Bitter Winter. Bottom right: Eito Suzuki, born as Kiyofumi Tanaka, photo: Mikkabie / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 4.0 Int. Cropped

“Media and Activists Creating False Narrative” – text: Fumihiro Kato

Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏) has contributed to various media outlets, including opinion magazines. Under the pen name Fumi Kato (かとう ふみ), he has published works such as “Chushi Ruro” (厨師流浪 – Wandering Chef), “Kakai Fuki” (花開富貴 – Blossoming, Prosperous and Noble), and “Denko no Otoko” (電光の男 – Lightning Man). Last year, he contributed with an article titled “Can News and Talk Shows Determine Good and Evil?” in the February issue of Monthly Seiron (月刊正論), challenging the approach to reporting on the Unification Church.

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