Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Closing the Shop

Closing the Shop: Information Cartels and Japan's Mass Media

Laurie Anne Freeman
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 280
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Closing the Shop
    Book Description:

    How is the relationship between the Japanese state and Japanese society mediated by the press? Does the pervasive system of press clubs, and the regulations underlying them, alter or even censor the way news is reported in Japan? Who benefits from the press club system? And who loses? Here Laurie Anne Freeman examines the subtle, highly interconnected relationship between journalists and news sources in Japan.

    Beginning with a historical overview of the relationship between the press, politics, and the public, she describes how Japanese press clubs act as "information cartels," limiting competition among news organizations and rigidly structuring relations through strict rules and sanctions. She also shows how the web of interrelations extends into, and is reinforced by, media industry associations and business groups (keiretsu). Political news and information are conveyed to the public in Japan, but because of institutional constraints, they are conveyed in a highly delimited fashion that narrows the range of societal inquiry into the political process.

    Closing the Shopshows us how the press system in Japan serves as neither a watchdog nor a lapdog. Nor does the state directly control the press in ways Westerners might think of as censorship. The level of interconnectedness, through both official and unofficial channels, helps set the agenda and terms of political debate in Japan's mass media to an extent that is unimaginable to many in the United States and other advanced industrial democracies. This fascinating look at Japan's information cartels provides a critical but often overlooked explanation for the overall power and autonomy enjoyed by the Japanese state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4587-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  2. One Bringing in the Media
    (pp. 3-22)

    Perhaps no institution in democratic society has the same Janus-faced image as the media. On the one hand, they profess and are believed by many to exist for the good of the public. Their job is to inform their readers and audiences about important events and help them interpret those events. They are also to guard against the unrestrained exercise of power by vested interests—their famous role as the “fourth estate” in democratic society. On the other hand, in order to get the information that would enable them to play this role, they must locate themselves within the political...

  3. Two Press, Politics, and the Public in Historical Perspective
    (pp. 23-61)

    The printed press in Japan differs from that of Europe and the United States in its origins, the timing of its introduction, and the very different political and social milieu in which it was nurtured. The two most important developments in the history of the Japanese press are the rapid rise during the late Meiji (1868–1911) and early Taishō (1912–1926) periods of a dominant organizational form with a distinctive editorial and management “philosophy” (fuhen futō) and the concomitant establishment of the cartel-like newsgathering associations known askishaclubs. These developments served to solidify the relationship between the press...

  4. Three Japan’s Information Cartels: PART I. COMPETITION AND THE CLOSED SHOP
    (pp. 62-101)

    Hegel once argued that it was “senseless to talk of an absolute or objective reality without connecting with the procedures through which such a reality could be established as real by us.”¹ Given that modern media organizations play a major role in constructing our daily reality, we should strive to understand the procedures, rules, norms, and institutions that guide the media as they perform this role.² Media scholars have determined that most of the news that gets reported by the American press emanates from official sources. In a study of theNew York Timesand theWashington Post, for example,...

    (pp. 102-141)

    The joining together of a loose group of competitors is a necessary but incomplete step in the creation of the information cartel. The formation of a group with similar interests and goals leads to two other requirements: the establishment of rules to standardize and regulate behavior among group members, and the provision of effective sanctions to be enforced in the event a member breaks these rules. Rules, formal and informal, serve to set the framework within which information is gathered, interpreted, and disseminated. While they differ from legal controls and government-imposed censorship, they can have similar effects and may be...

  6. Five Expanding the Web: The Role of Kyōkai and Keiretsu
    (pp. 142-159)

    As economists and business historians have long noted, cartels can be unstable arrangements. Insiders may renege on their agreements, effectively introducing competition into the mix. Or producers that are outside the cartel, and therefore not bound by the cartel’s rules and restrictions, may offer alternatives that also break down the cartel’s barriers. Despite these hazards, Japan’skishaclubs have remained a remarkably durable and powerful force in the Japanese political process. To understand just how, this chapter focuses on two media institutions that have reinforced and extended the clubs’ role: the newspaper industry association (kyōkai) and mediakeiretsu.

    As with...

  7. Six Why Information Cartels Matter
    (pp. 160-180)

    This study has addressed the institutional underpinnings of state-society relations through the analytic lens of the Japanese press. I have argued that Japanese politicians and bureaucrats, together with the mainstream media, have both promoted and benefited from what I call “information cartels”: institutionalized rules and relationships guiding press relations with their sources and with each other that serve to limit the types of news that get reported and the number and makeup of those who do the reporting. Three specific institutions provide the underpinnings for this news management process:kishaclubs, the newspaper industrykyōkai, and mediakeiretsu.

    The clubs...

  8. Appendix A Regulations for the Diet Press Club
    (pp. 181-186)
  9. Appendix B Kitami Administration of Justice Press Club Agreement
    (pp. 187-190)
  10. Appendix C Chronology of Agreements between the Imperial Household Agency and the Magazine Kisha Club
    (pp. 191-193)
  11. Appendix D A Comparison with the British Lobby
    (pp. 194-198)