Life-sized Japan reported by Chinese people to Chinese people "Popular Chinese Blogger Invitation" project
Seeing and experiencing Japan for what it is to eliminate any prejudice
The number of Internet users has topped the staggering 600 million in China*. Personal blogs and the Chinese version of twitter, "Weibo", have become deeply established as essential tools for the people of China, allowing them to make comments and statements whenever and wherever they like. Focusing on this social background, the SPF launched the "Popular Chinese Blogger Invitation" project, bringing to Japan a number of popular bloggers who were influential in China's cyber society in 2011. The project is designed to give the bloggers an opportunity to see the real Japan, so that they can disseminate objective information about Japan to Chinese Internet users.
In Japan, the term "blogger" is often associated with regular people writing blogs to make financial gain from affiliate marketing. The bloggers invited under this project, however, are next-generation opinion leaders with determination and courage to improve society, including chief editors of China's well-known media, prominent journalists, columnists, authors and poets. The group includes a blogger who has over 3 million followers, indicating the level of influence they have on Chinese society.
*As of January 2014 according to the 33rd Statistical Report on Internet Development in China by the China Internet Network Information Center
Change of perception about Japan after visiting SDF facility, ancient Japanese capitals, etc.
Under the project, the SPF has invited bloggers, mainly those who had never come to Japan before, in a group of 3 to 4 at a time, two to four times a year since April 2011. This year, the project brings the tenth group of bloggers. Twenty eight popular bloggers have come to Japan so far, visiting Hiroshima and communities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, making first-hand contacts with various people and cultures, and posting the experiences in mini-blogs, magazines and even newspapers back in China. During the visit, they also have online round-table talks to answer questions from users in China. Asked the reason behind visiting Japan, one blogger said, "I have come to Japan to deepen mutual understanding and resolve misunderstandings. Having been able to experience Japan first-hand proved to be much more beneficial than reading many books about the country." Another blogger shared his impression that "China's understanding of today's Japanese society is shallow due to the one-sided delivery of information."
During visits to the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto, many saw temples with heavy Chinese influence and realized how close Japan and China are culturally, commenting that they felt, day by day, how their perception about Japan became transformed. On Chinese television, any reference to the Japanese Self Defense Forces is always accompanied with video footage of annual live-ammunition drill near Mt. Fuji and scramble emergency takeoff of fighter planes, creating a general perception that the SDF is a military organization for combat purposes. However, the bloggers in the group that visited Japan in April this year reported having realized that the SDF is an organization that is also focused on international cooperation and emergency rescue operations, after inspecting Ground Self Defense Force's Public Relations Center in Asaka.
Mission of public interest foundations at this time of instability in Japan-Chinese relations
The Popular Chinese Blogger Invitation project creates ideal opportunities to disseminate the life-size image of Japan to people in China. The proliferation of Internet use has increased the amount of information about Japan available within China, transforming public opinions on this country. Given the trend, there is no doubt that this project will emerge as a force that help shape public opinions in China.
The SPF plans to compile the outcome of this project into a book along the line of "Japan as seen by bloggers". As a public interest foundation with information disclosure obligations, staff involved in the project passionately believes in the significance of disseminating real-life information about Japan, particularly at this time of instability in Japan-Chinese relations.
Helping as many Chinese people learn directly about today's Japan as possible, is the best shortcut for deepening mutual understanding between the two countries. The role Chinese bloggers play is becoming larger by the day.