chapter  25
13 Pages

The status and future of environmental journalism in Japan

WithMasako Konishi

The author of this chapter dates the development of environmental journalism in Japan to the impact of three events: the horror of Minamata disease, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. “Environmental reporting now is one of the most important news fields in Japanese journalism. However, the status of Japanese environmental journalism and its development processes are very different from those in the West, due to the unique context surrounding Japanese journalism.” The author explains the importance of “Jimae Shugi” (the principle of self-sufficiency) and the “Kisha Club” (Reporters Club) system in Japan. One thing that Japanese journalism has in common with the West is that Japanese mass media are undergoing a historic change in their business models. Japanese newspaper readership grew significantly in the pre-1990 era of economic and population growth, but, “the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011 led to a rapid decline in newspaper sales.” Furthermore, Japanese young people are relying more and more on free online news and social network services (SNS). The Japanese people have a high degree of trust in their major media organizations. The question is whether they are willing to pay for quality news.