CNN ALMOST Writes Pop-Japanology-less article

February 9, 2008

 First off, what I refer to as pop-Japanology is the phenomenon of people all over the world, including scholars and otherwise reputable journalists to feel comfortable making generalizations about Japan without any fact checking.

CNN has featured an article about the Sumo Bullying/Murder case that happened back in June. Arrests were made around February 8th prompting attention from international media.

Anyway, the article lists the fact of the case with a few slight exaggerations as to the level of influence Sumo has on Japanese society as a whole. I can live with innocent misunderstandings such as “a country that links its national identity to the sport”. (Actually, if the sport in question were baseball, I think this statement would be closer to the truth.)

The real problem is in the small Story Highlights blurb in the upper right-hand corner of the article. The third one reads, “The case has shocked Japan where Sumo is regarded as  near-sacred sport.”

I’m sure there are ways the article could try to qualify and justify that statement, but the closest you can get to the truth with that statement would be by using the “untouchable and impenetrable” meaning of sacred. There’s no question that the Sumo governing body is powerful (hence about 8 months between the kid’s murder and the arrest of the four responsible… although they were all demoted and dismissed from the Sumo association relatively quickly.)

Anyway, I would really love it if these guys could have just a little bit more integrity, do a little fact-checking, and present a more realistic picture of today’s Japan. I’d be happy to help them get the “inside-outsider’s view” as I call it.