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A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West Hardcover – August, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; 1 edition (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895260468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895260468
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,383,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Here is the quintessential example of a people betrayed through the corruption of the very news media that ought to be championing their causes. A Public Betrayed exposes deceptions, lies, and abuses of power in Japan that have led to such profound degrees of misunderstanding, confusion, and suffering that they have inspired the phrase "media atrocities." Key examples include:

• Vilifying innocent victims of terrorist attacks • Denying the Holocaust and supporting anti-Semitism • Smearing a prominent Buddhist leader • Whitewashing and denying one of history's worst war crimes, the Nanjing Massacre • Defaming Second World War Japanese military sex slaves or "comfort women"

Thorough, thoughtful, and provocative, this book lays bare the mechanisms and motivations behind these sobering abuses. And as the examples show, the very factors that have contributed to such injustices in Japan have become increasingly predominant in the news-media sectors of the West-factors such as extreme industry consolidation, the growth of nationalism, intense commercialism, and the erosion of media ethics. The lessons for the rest of the free world could be neither more profound nor more relevant. Now is the time to understand Japan and its media atrocities.

From the Inside Flap

Here is the quintessential example of a people betrayed through the corruption of the very news media that ought to be championing their causes. A Public Betrayed exposes deceptions, lies, and abuses of power in Japan that have led to such profound degrees of misunderstanding, confusion, and suffering that they have inspired the phrase "media atrocities." Key examples include:

• Vilifying innocent victims of terrorist attacks
• Denying the Holocaust and supporting anti-Semitism
• Smearing a prominent Buddhist leader
• Whitewashing and denying one of history's worst war crimes, the Nanjing Massacre
• Defaming Second World War Japanese military sex slaves or "comfort women"

Thorough, thoughtful, and provocative, this book lays bare the mechanisms and motivations behind these sobering abuses. And as the examples show, the very factors that have contributed to such injustices in Japan have become increasingly predominant in the news-media sectors of the West-factors such as extreme industry consolidation, the growth of nationalism, intense commercialism, and the erosion of media ethics. The lessons for the rest of the free world could be neither more profound nor more relevant. Now is the time to understand Japan and its media atrocities.


More About the Author

Adam Gamble is a writer, a photographer, and a publisher. He is the author of the Good Night Our World series, In the Footsteps of Thoreau, and A Public Betrayed. He lives in Dennis, Massachusetts. Santiago Cohen is an illustrator whose works have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, as well as in children's books. He is also a film animation designer and director at Ink Tank whose projects include Troubles the Cat episodes on Cartoon Network and the Emmy award-winning HBO specials Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales and How Do You Spell God? He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a book all American citizens-indeed, all Westerners-should read. Although it is "about" Japan, the lessons for democratic nations are immediately relevant. The authors offer an excellent analysis of the structural factors that facilitate the worst excesses of the Japanese media, and many of those factors are present in America today: media consolidation and the corresponding focus on profits over media ethics; the rise of sensationalistic reporting, "newstainment," and "politainment"; the one-sided reporting of the war in Iraq, the military involvement in Afghanistan, and the war on terrorism, with its embedded reporters, overreliance on governmental sources, and growing nationalism. Our nation was founded on the belief that the press was the watchdog of government, but this book reveals that we ought to start watching the watchdog more vigilantly. Readers will be impressed by the solid research, and they will be shocked at what they learn in this book, but the engaging voice and eloquence of the book's prose will make the lessons a pleasure-it really is an engrossing read.

Coauthored by an American journalist, A Public Betrayed is clearly written for a Western audience who may or may not be familiar with Japan. The first chapter is a wonderfully succinct primer on the Japanese system of governance and the "myths" that form the core of Japanese culture and thinking. Readers unfamiliar with Japan will appreciate the plethora of information presented in an easy-to-read manner; experts will appreciate the author's skillful boiling-down of myriads of information into a condensed kernel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on May 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For those interested in media studies, this is an informative and enlightening treatise on how the media works, or doesn't work, in Japan. The authors provide a reasonably compelling argument that if current trends in the American media continue, ours could become more and more like the highly dysfunctional and ineffective media of Japan, which has been guilty of many infractions on the Japanese people's rights to information and privacy. Here we find that the Japanese media is built around an unusual system of press clubs, which foment severe collusion between government sources and unquestioning reporters, and huge-selling weekly newsmagazines that offer a bizarre mix of investigative reporting, sensationalism, and titillation. The unique structural aspects of this industry have resulted in systematic xenophobia, sexism, neonationalism, and character assassinations in the Japanese media that have real effects on the rights of the people.

Through case studies examined in this book, we also find that the Japanese media have a structural tendency to revise and cover up shameful episodes in the country's history (especially WWII atrocities), relentlessly smear nonconformists and reform advocates, and perpetuate the near-total social power of Japan's political and economic elites. Unfortunately, Adam Gamble (according to the acknowledgements, co-author Takesato Watanabe mostly played the role of mentor) shows signs of contempt for fundamental aspects of Japanese culture, while the basic points being made in the book become tiresome and repetitive when applied to multiple case studies. The histories of the events behind the case studies also leave something to be desired, in terms of clarity and robustness.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Black on August 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of information that American readers will not have heard before, but which are disturbingly relevant to US media culture. It argues the Japanese media is characterized by lax training, almost non-existent journalistic standards, clubby media elites "On Bended Knee" before the Japanese government reporting the government line uncritically, balanced by a battalion of odd weekly magazines that mix pornography and sensationalism with outsider investigative reporting, which would just as soon deny and even commit wrongs as uncover them. For the first time in English, A Public Betrayed goes into details of what these outlets do, from slandering individuals to overt anti-Semitism to denials of the holocaust and other atrocities. Japan is half a world away and its culture, media and otherwise is about as foreign from ours as one can get. So as an American it is hard to judge how this sort of journalism reflects on Japan's democracy, though it hardly sounds healthy. But then consider the parallels with US media trends: Massive media mergers have left US outlets concentrated in a few corporate titans' hands who feel justified in pursuing their own for-profit interests in their media outlets. The trend towards infotainment, tabloidization, sensationalism threatens to overtake the media's function to report facts and inform citizens. Right-leaning think tanks have largely succeeded in replacing the journalistic standard of accuracy with "objectivity" or "balance" which is code for the permissibility of ideological spin on coverage, regardless of the facts.Read more ›
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