Friday, May 22, 2009

NYT goes Onion on Japan

Over the last few weeks, the New York Times has published a number of bizarre, half-nonsense articles on Japan. This week they've been on a roll, publishing two in a row.

First thing this morning they came up with an article of "hygiene-obsessed" Japan going into crisis mode over Swine flu complete with an obviously cropped-to-mislead photo of folks wearing masks on a Tokyo train meant to give the blatantly false impression that everyone---or at least a majority of people are wearing masks.

The story, despite the title (With flu fears rising Japan goes into crisis mode) and photo was mainly about Kobe which I think is in Japan, but is not Japan.

The crisis mode seems to be mostly in the media as most people I know are aware and concerned, but not in a crisis mode. One friend told me about not being able to find masks---probably because of all the imaginary mask-wearers on the Tokyo subway---but did not seem to be overly concerned.

The subway lines I use may be special, but there seemed to be no more than 4-5 mask-wearing-folks-in-crisis-mode per car yesterday morning or last night. The photo with the Hiroko Tabuchi NYT article shows that there were at least three mask-wearers hygiene-obsessed Tokyo train.

Wait, didn't Hiroko have the half-witted, half-the-story, back to the 80s piece about secure jobs and lifetime employment in Japan a few days ago in the NYT too? I wonder: After all the increasingly large percentage of the work-force who are temporary workers are laid off, what happens to employees at smaller companies when "suppliers are squeezed"? (Except for the small company, Shinano Kogyo, mentioned in the article where everything is wonderful.) And after all of these folks are fired, how can a reporter write an article about Japan's obsession with keeping its workers employed? Easy, count only "regular workers" and to hell with the rest. Just like the companies.

1540: Perhaps I was a bit early in the criticism of the Onion NYT article as none other than the authoritative Japan Times is reporting a panic near the wife's hometown after Swine flu was detected in some high school girls who had visited an unhygienic, disease-filled foreign country. Looking at the photo of Mizonokuchi station there---again conveniently cropped/framed for (misleading?) editorial purposes---it seems that a huge number of folks are donning masks. I missed that as I didn't work today and as usual avoid crowds and trains whenever I can. Panicked calls concerning the virus have increased from 150 per day to 250 since last evening. Seems a lot of folks have suddenly begun to feel that they have a fever. (Isn't this easy to determine?) Oh my god, we're all gonna die after all!!!!!! Do not panic.

And whatever you do, do not visit the real Onion and do a search for Japan.

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