Professional sumo wrestlers up close at Oguruma Stable
Commemorative photograph at Studio Ghibli Journalists and editors of major news sites possessing significant clout in shaping public opinion in China flew into Japan on February 11, at the invitation of The Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund
. After meeting with members of the Japanese media and Waseda University students, the group visited the Oguruma sumo stable, and then moved on to Studio Ghibli, famous for such hit animations as Spirited Away, before heading south to conclude a jam-packed visit with a field trip to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Having consumed Japanese culture at a rapid pace, the visitors returned to China on the 19th. Once settled back home, the participants will report about their experience in Japan in their respective media as part of the first year of a three-year project to promote understanding of Japan overseas.
Commemorative photograph at Studio Ghibli
The group of twelve, headed by Professor Baoguo Cui from the School of Journalism & Communication at Tsinghua University, was composed of editors and journalists from major newspapers like Beijing Youth Daily and Southern Weekly, as well as major news websites such as hexun.com and ifeng.com. The object of the visit was to expose the group to a slice of real Japanese life. Accordingly, the schedule was filled with diverse activities. On day two of the trip, after witnessing the intense morning training session at Oguruma Sumo Stable in Koto-ku, the group experienced another integral part of the sumo's life, Chanko Nabe, or weight-gain stew. After hearing a talk by Hayao Miyazaki, animation director and company executive at Studio Ghibli (Koganei, Tokyo), a company whose works are highly popular in China and beyond, the group gathered for a commemorative photograph.
Discussion with Japanese journalists
On day three, there were visits to major newspapers, followed by an informal gathering at the Nippon Foundation building in Akasaka, Tokyo with around twenty members of the Japanese press. "This is an opportunity to recognize our differences and sticking points. I hope you will deepen exchange between China and Japan", was the greeting given to the group by Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of The Nippon Foundation. In reply, the realities of the Chinese situation were illustrated by a member of the visiting group, who said, "We are trying to report objectively on Japan and to pass on the facts, however the mere mention of Japan inflames passions and brings us criticism, such as that we are pro-Japan or are glamorising the country. These extreme opinions are still shaped by a war that ended sixty years ago."
Pointed out by members of the Japanese audience was that, "Japanese news is in principle based on fact...yet the Japanese media tends to report the extreme opinions posted on Chinese websites as the prevailing opinion of the Chinese people". A wide range of opinions was expressed on the day, on subjects from the financial crisis to the impact of the simultaneous slowdown of the world economy on the administration of the media.
The group visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Other items on the busy agenda were trips to Yasukuni Shrine, Akihabara and Kyoto. Speaking of his impressions of Japan, Rong Zhou, Vice Chief Editor of SOHU.com (Beijing), said, "Upon coming to Japan I discovered that there are just a few schools that actually use the history book about which there has been such an uproar. I now feel more strongly the importance of selecting sources of information for the articles we carry."
(Tadashi Miyazaki, the Nippon Foundation)
*This article was reproduced from The Nippon Foundation Blog Magazine with the permission of the Nippon Foundation.