本日の「The Japan Times」の記事「経済成長率は今期0.6％にとどまる」（下のリンク参照）を読むと、日本経済はかなり減速しているように思えるであろう。特に設備投資が減少したために、今年第1四半期の成長率は昨年度第4四半期の半分程度になったが、「このことは景気の減速を示すものであろうとエコノミストたちは述べている」とのこと。 しかし、「The Daily Yomiuri」の記事「GDPは年率2.4％で成長」（下のリンク参照）を見ると、同じ事柄についてまったく違った印象を持つのではないか。なぜならそこでは、消費と輸出が好調だったのでGDPが伸びたことが強調されているからである。「つまり戦後最長の今回の景気拡大は堅調に続くとアナリストたちは述べている」とのこと。 いったい景気が減速しつつあるといったエコノミストたちは誰なのか、また景気拡大が堅調であるといったアナリストたちは誰なのか、それは決して新聞には明らかにされない。したがって、読者はメディア・スマートになる必要があり、コップの水がもう半分なくなったのか、まだ半分あるのかを自分自身で決めなければならない。 参考：References The Japan Times (5/18): "Economy grew just 0.6% in quarter" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070518a1.html The Daily Yomiuri (5/18): "GDP grows at annual rate of 2.4%" http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/20070518TDY01003.htm
When you read today's Japan Times article "Economy grew just 0.6% in quarter" (see the link above), you might think that the Japanese economy is slowing down significantly. Is is emphasized that mainly due to declining capital expenditures, the growth rate for this year's first quarter is about half of the rate for the fourth quarter last year, "signalling that economic growth may be slowing, economists said." But you would get a very different impression about the same matter, if you see The Daily Yomiuri article "GDP Grows at Annual Rate of 2.4%" (see the link above), where emphasis is on increasing consumption spending and exports to boost GDP. "Analysts said this indicates that the current business expansion, the longest in the postwar period, is firm," according to this article. Who are the economists who said economic growth may be slowing, and who are the analysts who said the current expansion is firm? The newspapers will never tell you, so you should be media-smart and decide for yourself whether the glass is half empty or half full.
There seems to be a clear difference in the tone of headlines between Japanese and U.S. newspapers regarding yesterday's stock price decline. For example, we can find such pessimistic headlines as "China Shock Wave," "Uncertainty in U.S. Economy" and "Affecting PM Abe's Growth Strategy?" in today's Nikkei Newspaper. On the other hand, in Los Angeles Times (2/28), there are more optistic headlines such as "Recession? Nah, Many Says." I hope this difference would not lead to a further decline in Japanese stock prices and a quick recovery of the NY stock market.
The editorial opinions of Japan's major newspapers are divided regarding the new education law which was passed through the Diet yesterday. While conservative Yomiuri and Sankei praise the passage of this new law as the first step in the right direction, Nikkei and Asahi show some caution, especially about the possibility of too much government intervention in education in the future. It is interesting to note that no strong opposition is expressed even by Asahi, which shows some concern and reservation. Similar stance is taken by such US Newspapers as New York Times and Los Angeles Times, where the latter sarcastically reports that "Japanese students can now look forward to studying patriotism as well as math, public spirit in addition to science."
The U.S. economy slowed down considerably in the third quarter, as the U.S. government announced yesterday. This is due to the sharp decline in housing for the summer. What is interesting is that generally the U.S. media seems to be reporting this fact with more optimism for the future than the Japanese media. For example, the title of the LA Times article reads: "Economy's growth rate slows - Expansion should rebound again in the fourth quarter, many analysts say." On the other hand, Nikkei Shimbun does not mention any forecast for the fourth quarter in the main text, but lists some contrasting views of two analysts, one optimistic and the other pessimistic. This U.S.-Japan difference in media reporting may stem from the trauma that Japan has experienced since the so-called "bursting of the bubble" in the early 1990s. Needless to say, the U.S. economy now is very different from the Japanese economy then in terms of economic structure, financial systems and government policies. So there is good reason to be optimistic about the U.S. economy.
Today all the major newspapers in Japan take up the issue of Prime Minister Kozumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine in their editorial section. As expected, Asahi and Sankei present two opposing views on this issue, the former putting up the headline "(Koizumi's) ears covered and eyes closed," while the latter praising Koizumi as "the prime minister showing Japan's posture." These two papers even devote their front pages to campaign their editorial opinions with value-loaded "news" headlines. On the other hand, Nikkei's treatment of this issue is somewhat subdued, although its editorial with the headline "self-righteous prime minister's Yasukuni visit" is quite critical of Mr. Koizumi's handling of the issue. In a sense, Yomiuri's editorial (see Reference below) is least interesting, as it is neither critical nor supportive. While its editorial headline "beyond the matter of conscience" sounds like a criticism against Mr. Koizumi, the editorial opinion itself is not. It is rather a proposal to discuss "a new way to mourn the war dead," such as the construction of a new national facility. In my view, the most interesting and informative is Asahi's detailed reporting on the issue of separation between state and religion (on p. 2 and p. 4), where the Japanese judiciary seems to have avoided a final judgment on this difficult issue. Reference: Daily Yomiuri Editorial (8/16/2006): http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/20060816TDY04004.htm
In the evening edition of today's newspapers it is reported that income disparity among young people, especially those in their 20s, seems to be increasing, according to this year's White Paper on Labor Economy, While Asahi Shimbun takes this up as the leading article on the front page with the headline "Widening Disparity," Nikkei Shimbun puts up a smaller piece on the second page with the headline "Concern About Future Diparity"(even this headline is dropped in its net version). This difference in headlines is clearly reflecting differences in interpretation and evaluation of income disparity between the two newspapers.
In today's newspapers it is reported that the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association decided to discuss the war crimial issue related to Yasukini Shrine after the LDP presidential election in September, or in other words, to postpone discussion of the issue until after the election. The former expression (i.e., to "discuss the issue" after the election) is adopted in Nikkei Newspaper, which is to emphasize the importance of discussing the issue whenever it takes place. On the other hand, the latter expression (to "postpone discussion of the issue" until after the election) is seen in Sankei Newspaper, which is discounting the importance of this particular issue and obviously wishing to see it postponed indefinitely. Newspaper headlines can make such a big difference in general impressions on the same news, and the reader should have media-literacy in understanding real meanings of the news that he or she reads in the newspaper. Reference: The Japan Times (8/3/2006) "Discuss Yasukuni after LDP poll: lobby" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060803a2.html
本日（26日）付のDaily Yomiuriに収録されているWashington Post Outlookの2つの記事によると、アル・ゴア元副大統領の地球温暖化についての映画や本が評判になっており（このブログでも7月22日の書評で取り上げた通り）、政治的な気候異変をもたらしつつあるように見えるが、アメリカ人はまだ環境問題に真剣に取り組もうとしていない。実際に先月有名なPew Global Attitudes Projectが発表した世論調査結果でも、地球温暖化を深刻な問題と捉えているアメリカ人は19％で、日本人の66％やインド人の65％と比べるとまだ非常に低い。 しかし、今後エネルギー価格がもっと高騰し、エネルギー危機が起これば、アメリカ人も自分のふところが痛む問題として省エネに真剣にならざるを得ないであろう。 いずれにしてもゴアは、優れた有識者であるが政治的な能力に限界があるので、大統領よりは副大統領に向いているのではないだろうかーーというのが記事の内容で、なるほどと思わせる結論。
According to the Washington Post Outlook articles about Al Gore, reprinted in today's issue of Daily Yomiuri, while Gore's popular movie and book on global warming appear to cause a political climate change in the U.S. (for his bestseller, see my blog page on July 22), the American public is yet to take up seriously the environmental issue, as "a Pew Global Attitudes Project poll last month found that only 19 percent of Amricans care about global warming 'a great deal,' compared with 66 percent of Japanese and 65 percent of Indians," But energy price hikes and possibly energy crises could force Americans to get serious about conservation in the near future. In the meantime, Gore might think about running for "vice" president, rather than president, as a distinguished public servant with limited political skills -- sounds like a very reasonable recommendation.
Original postings of the two articles: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Search for the following (registration required): "Warming to the Inconvenient Facts" "Another Kind of Gore '08 Bandwagon"