Are the lapdogs starting to bark? Japanese newspaper coverage of the SDF mission to Iraq

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Department or Administrative Unit

Political Science

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Japanese media coverage is popularly portrayed as being closely tied to the ruling elite through the operation of kisha clubs where access to government sources and close government—journalist—business interconnections are cultivated. Given the gravity of the Koizumi administration's decision to send Self-Defense Forces to Iraq in support of the 2003 US invasion and the fundamental constitutional question it involved, this event provides a unique opportunity to test the thesis that the Japanese media are merely the `lapdog' of government. Two models, hegemony and indexing, make different predictions about media/political elite relations in news coverage. The findings of this study reveal that coverage by journalists provided little support for either. Given this, two alternative models are created and tested, the ideological bias and populist models. These models suggest that the press takes its reporting cues from sources other than political elites. Further study to provide greater assurance of this is merited by results here.


This article was originally published in Media, War & Conflict. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Media, War & Conflict


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