Japan’s Newspaper Market is – much more than in any other industrialized nation –characterized by a largely homogeneous coverage of events and the absence of journalists’ competition within the editorial offices related to political affairs. Many scholars in this field have identified a system of give-and-take between Japan’s big five media keiretsu and LDP-dominated state institutions, which functions as a form of cartelization of information to keep out unwanted competitors. Research so far has widely concentrated on media-sociological aspects for mapping out some societal implications. Special monitoring of the Anti-Monopoly-Law, separate treatments in fiscal law and commercial code, administrative guidance or the field of subventions, however, are issues that have been largely neglected.
By focusing on this very influence of market regulation I aim at drawing a new picture of Japan’s newspaper market. Questions to be asked in this presentation include the following: Which incentives for self-restraint journalism can be spotted besides the information-gathering routines of Japanese journalists? How did rising media activities and rising inter-media competition on the one hand and regulatory reforms of the 1990s on the other hand affect the patterns of competition in the market? Finally, is the competition within Japan’s newspaper market becoming a more “functioning” one or not?
Falk Schäfer is a Ph.D. candidate at the Free University of Berlin. He currently is a visiting research fellow at Sophia University, sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service.