Contradictory stereotypical depictions of Japan's relationship with technology in the British press
Fake news has become a global buzzword, grabbing headlines and sparking debate about how to identify fabricated stories. However, inaccuracy can arise in other ways. A key example of this is stereotyping in the media, which affects not only minority groups, but entire nations. Japan is a country often defined in the British media through stereotypical depictions, falling back on Orientalised, unchanging notions of ‘Japaneseness’ and its perceived difference to the West. The reporting of Japan’s use of technology in the British press, however, presents a puzzle: in some instances, Japan is depicted as being low-tech, whilst in others, Japan is high-tech. These are not contrasts, but direct contradictions. How can they coexist? Extant research has blamed journalists as lazy, lacking knowledge about Japan or for ‘Japan-bashing’, but has done so without taking the time to interview journalists. No previous research has explained the coexistence of ontradictory stereotypical depictions, nor considered why journalists employ stereotypical depictions in articles. The thesis goes beyond demonstrating misrepresentation, and considers how these contradictory depictions can coexist, whether they can be evidenced, and why they persist. Taking articles about fax machines as an example of low-tech Japan and articles about robots for high-tech Japan, the thesis combines critical discourse analysis and fieldwork to test depictions against empirical evidence. It reveals that these technologies are not used to the extent depicted in the British media, and that the context for their use is omitted. It also shows that these depictions are not as contradictory as it first appears, as they derive from the same stereotypical knowledge. Furthermore, these depictions are not the result of lazy journalism, but complex systemic factors within foreign news reporting. These findings are not only significant for the reporting of Japan, but for understanding the media depictions of many other countries, too.
PhD defended at
Cardiff University, School of Modern Languages
Global Asia (Asia and other parts of the World)
Gender and Identity