16th JAMCO Online International Symposium
January to March, 2007
Images of Foreign Countries Projected on Television of China, Korea, and Japan
Sometimes movies go as far as rewriting history. Stories like the one about a righteous woman doctor who brings about peace and harmony between the first nations and the blood-thirsty gunmen of the Wild West seem quite unreal to those who are familiar with the John Wayne horse operas of the 50’s. These movies are no more, and no less, than contemporary fictions disguised in period costumes, but the audience tends to believe that the stories actually took place in history.
In the same sense, television reflects the sub-conscious desires and fears of the people of any society. Some people say that television shows what the viewers want to see. Other people say that it is television that shapes the notions of the viewers. It is probably not a simple one-way process, but rather it is a tangled two-way process.
It is often said that the Japanese people are overly self-conscious about how they appear to foreign eyes. It was rather natural, therefore, for us to observe in last year’s forum how Japan and the Japanese people were depicted on television in other countries. That was a collection of Japan’s bi-lateral relations with each of the countries involved.
On the other hand, we do not very often ask ourselves how one people perceives other peoples. With this in mind, we decided this year to take a close look at what countries our Asian neighbours are looking to, and with what interests. I hope that this forum will help us better understand the international relations perceived in the daily lives of the lay peoples of three countries.
I am grateful for the three media experts who have made their outstanding presentations from China, Korea, and Japan. I am also thankful for the three Japanese discussants for the brilliant insights they showed in their analysis. There was a lot for me to learn, though I have been engaged in cultural exchange all my life. It was particularly nice for me to know that the Chinese people also love Mr. Bean, I myself being one of the very first Japanese Bean-nuts.
This symposium has been made possible by the generous grants of the Japan Foundation and of the Hoso Bunka Foundation. The invaluable assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters of Japan is also greatly appreciated.
Director-General, Department of Exchange and Promotion Japan Media Communication Center