Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
The crisis at Fukushima was not only a crisis for the people of Japan and the nuclear industry as a whole; it was also a public relations disaster for the Japanese government.
TEPCO, the Japanese utility company that operated Fukushima Daiichi, along with the Japanese government were consistently exposed telling blatant lies or misrepresentations of the truth.
Now, in an attempt to mitigate the public relations fallout that has ensued from their deceit of the Japanese people and those around the globe, the government is devoting roughly 70 million yen or $913,000 to combating what they bill “erroneous information” about the disaster.
The contract was awarded to a Tokyo advertising company who will likely continue their efforts until March.
While the agency will not demand that original postings be taken down or that the poster’s identity be revealed; they will identify the allegedly “erroneous information” in order to carry “correct information” on their website.
So-called experts will be consulted and the “correct information” will be presented in a question-and-answer format.
While the government presents this as nothing more than an attempt to present accurate information to the public, the people of Japan, including lawyers, do not see it as such an innocent proposal.
The monitoring program was criticized by none other than the Japan Federation of Bar Associations who issued a statement on the 29th of July that argued the program was threatens freedom of speech.
The statement, released under the name of the President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said that, “The government will likely restrict free discussions by unilaterally criticizing what it regards as ‘inaccurate’ and imperil freedom of expression.”
The lawyer who compiled the statement, Kazuo Hizumi, told Asahi Japan Watch that, “Many people look to online information because they do not trust what the government says. Providing accurate information is what the government is supposed to do in the first place; not spending money on a project to interfere with the circulation of information.”
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Hizumi makes an irrefutable and important point here: why are they spending nearly $1 million in non-existent funds to create a program to carry out what they should have been doing from day one? Why should the people of Japan be on the hook for the fact that the government could not be trusted from the get-go?
Even an official at the agency charged with handling the monitoring program (which can arguably be characterized as nothing more than a propaganda program funded by taxpayers) had to admit that the Japanese government’s had problems in regards to handling the information coming out of Fukushima.
However, the official said that most people simply misunderstand the project and that they are only “listening to public opinion and trying to sending [sic] out reliable information by showing grounds for it and making it easier for people to comprehend.”
Why they wouldn’t do this in the first place was not explained, nor was it explained why an advertising company would be getting a huge amount of money to do what should be the government’s job: telling the truth.
The fact that an advertising company was awarded the contract should be raising some red flags amongst the people of Japan and the world. Advertising companies are not known for presenting the whole truth, instead they are tasked with selling a product and making something appealing which might otherwise not be.
Personally, I think it is a bad sign when the taxpayer is being billed for the government’s lack of ability to tell the truth. It is an even worse sign when they have to hire an advertising firm to sell the “correct information” to the people.
If the information was indeed correct and verifiable, would they need an advertising company to present it?
No, facts are irrefutable, and the public would be able to investigate the government’s claims for themselves which would make the huge contract with the advertising agency unnecessary.
If the government had any interest in telling the truth, why wouldn’t they simply do so? Why would they have to pay another body to set the record straight?
Associate professor of law on information at Keiwa College in Japan, Shinya Ichinohe, told Asahi Japan Watch that the public outcry over the project is understandable given how the government has handled information pertaining to the Fukushima crisis.
Indeed, their handling was lackluster at best and outright criminally deceitful at worst.
One can only hope that the government will actually follow through and present accurate information to their people. Unfortunately, the fact that an advertising company is getting paid over $900,000 does not strengthen this assertion.