It is cheap, fast, and anti-hierarchic: for minority groups and activists campaigning against powerful governments and institutions, the Internet must be an ideal tool. Disseminating information and linking up with like-minded people is made much easier, and more affordable, for groups that often rely on volunteers and operate with very limited resources. The general assumption is that the Internet “levels the playing field” between the powerful and the smaller actors. But does it?
The “textbook affair” of 2001 provides an opportunity to test the assumption. Activists from Japan and from South Korea protested against the approval of a new history textbook, and then campaigned against its use in schools. They were rather successful in preventing this; and some of the groups did use the Internet for their campaigns. I will try to trace links between the use of the Internet and effectiveness of activist campaigning, especially in a transnational setting. I hope to find general patterns, while considering differences between Japanese and Korean Internet usage. I hope to find general patterns, while considering differences between Japanese and Korean Internet usage.
Isa Ducke is a research fellow at the DIJ and works on Japanese-Korean relations. She graduated from SOAS, London, in 1999.