AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

More journo snickering at Japan, #4,625

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HERE’S ANOTHER overseas correspondent in Japan wasting his own time and that of his readers at the breakfast table: Justin McCurry of the Guardian.

His latest article falls squarely into that old standby category of space filler: Japan as the Goofball Kingdom of East Asia. This one’s about how the Japanese are so desperate for companionship they’re renting “fake”, “phony”, and “bogus” friends.

Here’s the first sentence:

Best man Ryuichi Ichinokawa took his place before the assembled wedding guests, cleared his throat and for the next few minutes spoke movingly about the bride and groom.

So who’s the fake, Justin? This is a dead giveaway that McCurry has (a) never been to a Japanese wedding, (b) didn’t go to this one, or (c) doesn’t understand enough Japanese to understand what went on if he did. I’ve been to about 20 nuptials here, and I’ve never heard a nakodo (go-between), or what McCurry is referring to as a “best man”, speak “movingly” at any of them. Indeed, most people have trouble staying awake during those speeches.

Perhaps he means that Mr. Ichinokawa pinch hit for one of those people who give separate introductions of the bride and groom. They’re usually more interesting, because they give guests a glimpse of what the man and woman have actually done in their lives, but “moving” is not a word that applies to the ones I’ve heard.

After a successful debut making the wedding speech, the requests came flooding in, says Ichinokawa, who takes days off from his job at a toy manufacturer to go on assignment.

How much is a “flood”? Don’t ask the author. I doubt it would be enough to get his stockings wet. It’s probably not even the word that Mr. Ichinokawa used. People with full time jobs in Japan have a lot less discretionary time off than in the U.S. (and presumably Britain), and fewer opportunities to use them. Approval also requires a lot more explanation, both to one’s superiors and to one’s colleagues. Mr. Ichinokawa is unlikely to be devoting very much time to this sideline, which is apparent from this sentence:

He even managed to keep his wife in the dark about his extra-curricular activities until two months ago, when she spotted him in a cafe being interviewed by a Japanese reporter.

Keeping one’s wife in the dark about one’s comings and goings, particularly on weekends or holidays when weddings and school sporting events are held, is no easy matter in Japan. Yet a Japanese reporter knew about it and his own wife didn’t?

Note also that one Japanese news outlet found this phenomenon so unusual they decided to file their own man-bites-dog story about it.

The number of rent-a-friend agencies in Japan has doubled to about 10 in the past eight years.

It took as many as eight years to go from five agencies to “about” ten in a country of 127 million? Ah, sang McCartney, look at all the lonely people!

The best known, Office Agent, has 1,000 people on its books.

How many of these 1,000 people are active, and how much time they spend at this job, are more true facts that McCurry can’t be bothered to find out doesn’t tell us.

In recent months demand has surged for…

What constitutes a “surge”? Nah, don’t ask the author.

But as with the other members of his guild elsewhere, he does manage to find the space to practice sociology without a license:

The rise of the phony friend is a symptom of social and economic changes, combined with a deep-seated cultural aversion to giving personal and professional problems a public airing.

Snort! And what social and economic changes might those be?

Don’t ask the author.

As for being averse to airing one’s dirty laundry in public, the U.S. and Britain could certainly learn a thing or two—or three or four or five—from Japan. I know which cultural standard I prefer.

There are hundreds of fascinating stories McCurry could file about Japan if he would only bother to look. But hey, why do some real work when you can spitball your way through life?

Most puzzling of all is why McCurry thinks this minor “rent-a-friend” trend in Japan is worth writing about. The journalistic puffery employed to fill column inches is apparent before one is halfway through the piece.

But perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on him. Maybe he led a sheltered life in England before his Tokyo assignment. That might explain why he’s so unfamiliar with the concept.

The lad seems to have never heard of gigolos.

Or prostitutes, for that matter.

52 Responses to “More journo snickering at Japan, #4,625”

  1. “HERE’S ANOTHER overseas correspondent in Japan wasting his own time and that of his readers at the breakfast table: Justin McCurry of the Guardian.”

    Indeed one would never see Japanese papers printing this type of tripe. Oh wait …

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200907310049.html

    Go on, let the reporters have fun, will you?

  2. ampontan said

    Oh, I referenced the fact that a Japanese reporter also interviewed the man.

    The Asahi covers dozens of stories in Japan every day. The Guardian covers Hatoyama Elected and then skips over the other 98 to get to the goofball piece. Well, their financial page probably has a story every so often.

    One point:

    I read enough overseas websites that are mostly serious in intent to know that stories such as these are the only type about Japan that they feature.

    Another point:

    The tone of faux expertise.

  3. Ampontan,

    I’m hurt and disappointed that it’s taken you two days to regurgitate one of your anti-correspondent diatribes. You’re not the first to criticize the rent-a-friend piece – I’ve been corresponding with Earl Kinmonth (a friend of yours?) at length on the subject over the last two days so forgive me if I don’t go over the same ground.

    You’re quite right, there are plenty of fascinating topics in Japan: the war legacy, Hiroshima, criminal justice, Toyota, Sony, homelessness, contract workers, mental illness, health insurance, diplomatic relations, elections, Hatoyama, Aso et al, whaling, tuna overfishing, the yakuza, the environment, food and drink, festivals, unemployment, longevity, parental child abduction – all of which I’ve covered for the Guardian, the lancet an other publications over the last five years. Perhaps you were too busy decrying the efforts of other journalists to notice them.

    And I’m sorry the Japanese weddings you’ve attended were such snore fests. I’ve been to several, and they were, for the most part, just as I described them, minus the fake guests (as far as I could tell).

    Keep up the good work. Your missives are the source of much merriment at the FCCJ bar … once we’ve finished tlking about the weather and the price of rice.

    Best wishes,

    Justin

    PS No, I didn’t lead a particularly sheltered life in the UK.

  4. ampontan said

    You’re quite right, there are plenty of fascinating topics in Japan: the war legacy, Hiroshima,

    Ah yes, the first two out of the box, how contemporary and up-to-date and Guardianista of you.

    I’ve been to several, and they were, for the most part, just as I described them

    Other than the word “moving” to describe a speech you didn’t understand, you didn’t describe the wedding at all.

    The last one I went to had a taiko performance. None of the speeches were moving, however.

    Your missives are the source of much merriment at the FCCJ bar

    So that’s where you do your research.

    We’ll leave the question of why anyone should care what the timeservers at the FCCJ think for another day.

    BTW, it took me two days, because unlike yours, all my research is conducted in the Japanese-language press.

    Edward R. Murrow was right. Journalists aren’t thin-skinned. They have no skin.

    Back to the FCCJ bar with you, Justin, I have real work to do.

  5. Ampontan,

    You presume to know an awful lot about a) my Japanese language ability b) my sources for articles c) my work ethic and d) the amount of time I spend at the FCCJ. Hopelessly wrong on all counts. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Thank you, though, for making clear one important point – that your commentary on western media coverage of Japan is based on an irrational, and rather pitiful, dislike of western journalists per se. I now feel totally vindicated in my choice of profession.

    Justin

  6. Robert Meurant said

    To be filed under Self-Inflicted Lacerations…

  7. tony said

    Ampotan. You’ve been to 20 weddings? You’re not a fake priest by any chance are you?

  8. ampontan said

    Tony: I’ve been here 25 years (and a half). I used to work full time at an English school, and still go two hours a week at night to help out. Most of the teachers and office staff are young and single when they get hired, and most of them wind up getting married. It’s also affiliated with an NGO, a karate dojo, and another difficult to describe private school (sort of an after school child care program on steroids). They all get married too. We used to have a lot of adult students, particularly women, and they get married. Some of the people I taught as children grew up and got married and invited me.

    Every time my wife sees another wedding invitation, she starts grumbling…

  9. Martin F said

    “Space filler” is being too kind, Ampontan.

    And now The Guardian is quoted on USA Today, and so the so-called story gets a life of its own.

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/09/japans-rentafriend-business-is-booming.html

    A better angle would have been to corner the wedding-service business owners and ask why they prey on the insecurities of young couples, rather than making up a story based on the old “all Japanese are friendless geeks” meme that we are getting very tired of.

  10. Bryce said

    Good old EHK. Nice to see he’s up to his old tricks.

    “The rise of the phony friend is a symptom of social and economic changes, combined with a deep-seated cultural aversion to giving personal and professional problems a public airing.”

    Of course it is.

    I would like to ask Mr. McMurray a serious question, if he is still with us. Does he independently file stories like this, or do his editors overseas demand “weird” stories from Japan?

  11. Mac said

    Being civil, I would like to ask the same question Bryce.

    I hope Justin can be honest about this (his editors might read his comments …). Personally, I think much of the blame is to be placed on the editors rather than the stringers.

    But not being civil, as felt his response was unnecessarily supercilious and may not be entirely honest …

    > Justin McCurry said
    >
    > You presume to know an awful lot about a) my Japanese language ability b) my sources for articles c) my work ethic and
    > d) the amount of time I spend at the FCCJ. Hopelessly wrong on all counts. Sorry to disappoint you.

    I do not know about any of those … please let us know … but you’re a fucking shite cook Justin. And, before you click off, wait until the Sushi review below.

    In fact, you are not a cook at all unless you define “cooking” as mopping down to Lawsons and repacking it in a lunch box. I mean, you could have gone to Muji and gotten a really cool one.

    “The latest craze in recession-stricken Japan … salary men making their own lunchtime bento box”. Really?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/sep/18/make-bento-box

    There are a good selection of articles at Global Post to give an overview:

    http://www.globalpost.com/search/node/justin%20mccurry

    Koizumi … bizarre
    Bento … craze
    Boy band … naked, drunk and incoherent, and sexual abuse
    Tokyo … cat cafes
    Patchinko … exhausted his balls and missed reporting on the North Korean cash scams and prominence
    Sumo … pot scandals
    Yakuza … soldiers bankrolling their hedonism
    Cold War … bizarre (again)
    POW … refusal to apologize
    Japanese wives … sexless virgin wives turn to sex volunteers
    Child Abductions … Japan the racist pariah
    Comfort women … No truth and no reconciliation, Japanese unapologetic over ‘comfort women’
    Japanese men … cold automatons shouting undying love with megaphones
    Death penalty … secret opaque appetite for executing its own citizens
    Hatoyama … UFOs and Tom Cruise in past life

    Sushi … “Japanese sensitivity”.

    But this one is especially for you Bill …

    Apparently the McCurry flavored chef ‘Osamu Nishida’ whom he quoted is chef at the … Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan’s sushi bar. And it is not even open to the public!!!

    Ha ha ha … now what were you just saying?

    Quoting a 2007 forum … two zero zero seven …

    I like the context given upthread about the FCC chef! It’s not a total surprise, if you’ve read much of Justin McCurry’s other writings on Japan.

    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/110039-michelin-guide-tokyo-2008/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/15/japan.foodanddrink

    This is almost an identical repeat of the last kid FCCJ journalist episode … and expert in “whacky, war unrepentant, murderous and secretive Japs”. Yes, please, is it you or is this what the paper demands? I find it hard to believe of The Grauniad (sic).

    An LSE graduate with a post-grad in Japanese Studies from SOAS, Justin shape-shifted from the center right Yomiuri to the leftie Guardian.

    I was almost sympathetic when I read about the whaling and dolphins at Taiji stuff but then I see him tucking into great slabs of conbini bought salmon so, my assumption is that there were only written for the tree-hugging sandal wearing audience.

  12. Aceface said

    “You’re quite right, there are plenty of fascinating topics in Japan: the war legacy”

    OK,so this comes as No1?

    “Perhaps you were too busy decrying the efforts of other journalists to notice them.”

    Well,actually we’ve discussed once that you used Debio Ardou as the source on racism in Japan and your frequent coverage on Yakuzas…..

  13. Jaitra said

    Horror and shock, Japanese once again taking themselves too seriously, and Westerners failing to appreciate the hidden depths of Japanese culture. A storm in a precisely measured cup of green tea perhaps?

  14. Ryan H said

    In my outside opinion, non-biased towards either of you two fellows, I believe that you should not be bashing a fellow writer for writing an article, but the editor for allowing it to be published with such little sourcing. I believe more research should have been done, and the editor or publisher should have stated that before publishing it, but the establishment obviously approved of his article as-is. Why would someone waste time on more research when they can sell their article as-is, it would be finacially foolish of them to waste there time on an already sold article, that they could be using on their next bit. So, I say suggesting to do more research is absolutely fine, but it’s the editor and the publishers fault for publishing the article without that.

  15. M-Bone said

    Prize winning academic article about how abysmal the UK reporting of war legacies has been.

    Philip Seaton, “Reporting the 2001 textbook and Yasukuni Shrine controversies” in Japan Forum 17, no. 3 (2005)

    A bit before McCurry’s time, however.

  16. Mac said

    Being civil, I would like Justin to discuss editorial involvement honestly as well … but could he? His editors might read his response.

    Being uncivil, as I thought his response was supercilious and potentially dishonest …

    > Justin McCurry

    > You presume to know an awful lot about a) my Japanese language ability b) my sources for articles
    > c) my work ethic and d) the amount of time I spend at the FCCJ.

    The funny bit was a quote from a 2007 Michelin Guide Tokyo 2008 discussion forum that said,

    “I notice that near the end of the article writer Justin McCurry has the obligatory quote from a Japanese sushi chef … Masukomi happens to be the name of the sushi bar at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (aka the foreign press club), and as far as I know they’re not even open to the public.

    User Ohba replied stated on 24 March 2007

    I like the context given upthread about the FCC chef! It’s not a total surprise, if you’ve read much of Justin McCurry’s other writings on Japan.

    In short, if you do a Google, Justin specializes in exactly the same “whacky Jap” comfort women and racial stereotype stories that Ampontan, and many of the rest of us, criticize. His articles are persistently peppered with the usual “craze”, “bizarre”, “no apologetic” stereotypes.

    He is also a shite cook, as his latest video shows. Unless you define “cooking” as mopping down to Lawsons to fill up a Bento box as per the “latest craze” from those whacky “automaton” Nip salarymen.

    For a moment I was sympathetic when I read his whaling and dolphin articles but as he then went on to tuck into huge slabs of salmon and pile up the plastic containers, I realised it was probably all show for the treehugging, sandal wearing paymasters at the Guardian newspaper.

    Justin, an LSE Grad with Masters at SOAS in Japanese Studies, seems to have done a shapeshift stunt from working at the Right-wing Yomiuri to the Leftie heartland of The Grauniad whoring out nipponisms for both sides.

    * I wrote a detailed critique of past articles that contained more than one URL but it seems that it was eaten by your spam filter amp.

  17. Aceface said

    “Japanese once again taking themselves too seriously, and Westerners failing to appreciate the hidden depths of Japanese culture. A storm in a precisely measured cup of green tea perhaps?”

    Hey,this is OUR cup of green tea we are talking about,ofcourse we are dead serious about it’s reputation.
    And giving accurate information and debunking myth and prejudice is supposed to be a cup of tea for any journalist regardless of nationality.No?

  18. ampontan said

    Aceface on the green tea hits the mark. The whole point of this site is to try to present accurate information that people won’t see anywhere else, particularly people who can’t read Japanese. I have a point of view, as does everyone else in the world, but I try to present it in such a way that readers can discount it.

    Excellent work, Mac. You did what I should have done. That business about the FCCJ sushi bar is a classic, and typical journo. And it’s closed to the public? Does that not encapsulate the reasons for overseas coverage of Japan being so lame?

    I’m not sure what his Master’s degree work involved, but if it’s what I think it might be, I owe McCurry an apology for doubting his Japanese language ability.

    That is entirely offset–much more than offset–by looking at Mac’s review of his…what shall we call it, “body of work”?

    He spent that much time, trouble, and probably money on those studies and for what? Giving the public worthless crap when he KNOWS there is nutritious food available.

    That makes the crime even worse. Not only should he know better, he should have the integrity to do better, but he chooses not to.

    An ink-stained wretch without the ink stains.

    I might have been wrong about another thing, too. He might know more about prostitution than I thought.

  19. tony said

    As a journalist, albeit also a blogger, I’m obviously biased on this. But the points you raise would be lot more credible if a) you didn’t post anonymously b) you didn’t direct your attacks ad hominem. The first smells of cowardice and the second is just juvenile.
    ———————-
    Anonymously? My name is clearly written on the right sidebar, and also at the end of the About page at the top. Several posters use it.

    There seems to be a problem with your journalistic sense of smell.

    As for ad hominem (presumably about your fellow guild member), I didn’t say anything a reader won’t find in any newspaper or magazine published every day of the week anywhere about a politician or public figure, particularly on the op-ed page. It’s just that journalists think they have the God-given Constitutional right to dish it out while being immune from taking it.

    – A.

  20. tony said

    I wasn’t referring to you on the first count Ampontan. As for the second, there’s no shortage of personal attacks in parts of the media. That’s juvenile too, although it tends to be done with more style and less libel.
    —————
    Feel free to point out the libel. With, of course, an explanation that will hold up in court.

    – A.

  21. tony said

    Hey, what do I have to do to get on your “What readers’ write page”?
    ———————
    Act like a twat.

    Here’s one for you: What do readers have to do to get you or the other members of the guild to cover any of the issues I address in Intraview?

    – A.

  22. tony said

    There seems to be a problem with your journalistic sense of smell.

    As people who’ve met me will confirm, I have a magnificant journalist’s proboscis.

  23. tony said

    Leaving aside the fact that most of the issues on that page have been covered by the Japan correspondents, journalism isn’t an exclusive guild. You can just call or email a publication saying why you think the story is newsworthy and how you would report it. Most publications are always looking for new writers. That’s how I got started.

    Incidentally, if by guild you mean the FCCJ, we have blogger members as well as regular open events for new members. Next time you are in Tokyo could pop in, meet some journalists and attempt to convince them face to face. I’ll buy you a drink.
    —————–

    Leaving aside the fact that most of the issues on that page have been covered by the Japan correspondents…

    The day I see serious articles talking about the near absence of nationalist tone in the Japanese news media, particularly as compared to the South Koreans or Chinese, the near absence of controversial textbooks in Japanese schools (I think the Tsurukai just bragged they got their history book usage rate up to 1%), the extent to which the governments of both those countries deliberately fan anti-Japanese sentiment–the South Korean government financially supports it–or how the SK school system inculcates anti-Japanese attitudes, is the day I believe that one.

    That isn’t to say they don’t exist, but I read a lot, and I haven’t seen any.

    Thanks for the offer, but I almost never drink, and the only two days I’ve spent in Tokyo were my first two days in the country. If you ever get to Fukuoka, maybe we can work something out.

    – A.

  24. RMilner said

    SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) is Britain’s premiere specialist college for Japanese language studies, part of London University. If he’s got a master’s from there, he must be good at Japanese at any rate.

  25. Adamu said

    In principle, is it really such a bad thing for an audience in one country to entertain itself with oddities from another? All countries do it, it’s just the target that differs. Fark.com is famous as an aggregator of all this useless “news” and probably more comes from Florida than Japan. And to the extent that Japan does stuff that appears odd to the rest of the world, there’s no sense in trying to tell people *not* to cover it. In that sense, I am inclined to take the UK reporter’s side and let this article go as light-hearted entertainment.

    But where I share Ampontan’s frustration is the air of seriousness and deep insight that surrounds so much Weird Japan material. If only the Guardian didn’t see the need to present this material as an sign of the times for Japanese society, I don’t think the author would have been tempted to “practice sociology without a license” and hence it would not have bugged anyone. Wouldn’t it be just as compelling to call this what it is – a rare but interesting service being offered by a small number of firms for a tiny percentage of marriages in Japan?

    The fact that this story made it into the Guardian via earlier Japanese media reports presents other issues. For one, clearly most of the foreign media will take its lead from local reports, just as Japanese foreign correspondents in the US will sometimes crib from the New York Times.

    Second, it shows how the Japanese media are just as susceptible to inflating a PR release (or any oddball fringe element) to a major social phenomenon as the foreign press. Only when the Western press picks it up, there’s an added level of separation from the original source and hence usually more distortion and inference, with a pinch of exoticism for good measure.

    One recent “phenomenon” I saw touted in local press (and picked up on English-language J-blogs) but not yet reported in mainstream Western press was college students who are so shy they eat their lunch in the toilet stall. From the look of it, these reports appear based on the thinnest of evidence, and bear no sign of a genuine phenomenon. But that didn’t stop the J-media from breathlessly covering the shocking sign of the times, and the Western media might not be far behind. But with reports like those, who can blame some foreign press for believing what they read?
    —————-

    …just as Japanese foreign correspondents in the US will sometimes crib from the New York Times.

    1. “Sometimes”? Most of them might as well be stenographers.
    2. It’s not just the Japanese, either. Newspapers in other countries have the same problem. One Irish paper recently ran a retraction of a mistake they made because they used what was probably a deliberate misquote by the NYT.

    – A.

  26. Mac said

    Watch out Amp, Justin just tweeted you for attacking his light-hearted pieces on cultural trends … http://twitter.com/justinmccurry which was likely the source of the trolling above.

    > He spent that much time, trouble, and probably money on those studies and for what?
    > Giving the public worthless crap when he KNOWS there is nutritious food available.

    Just to rile you Amp, being a Limey there is a good chance his education was largely government funded.

    In Justin “In Japan, it’s raining tadpoles” McCurry’s defence, I’d love to see a piece on “Land of the Sinking Sun” that HE really wanted to write for himself. Unless, of course, it was the article on the groper crackdown (fnr … fnr fnr … he said “crack”) but hope it was not the Sniffist Club in Tokyo article nor the Japanese “flying carpet in space” stuff. Yes, isn’t Nippon a gold mine of light-hearted piss-takes?

    But, on the basis of his education … which, by all accounts, is just about the best trajectory the UK could offer and played differently could have easily taken him into the Diplomatic services like so many of his peers (LSE/SOAS … should we not expect better?

    Back as far as 2004, Justin was rolling out all the usual Unit 731 stuff in “Japan’s sins of the past … Chinese want an apology” and into 2005, you had the Yamamoto movie re-igniting anger over Japan’s wartime excesses because “Japan refuses to recognise the costs of its wartime experiment with ultra-nationalism“. Heavens above, the film “ barely mentions the origins of the war“. The the origins of the war according to the Allies, that is.

    So, yes, direct hit. Does this not all make Justin McCurry part of the lazy journalistic clique who roll out all the usual stereotypes about Japan for cash … and part of the Anti-Nipponist Cabal?

    The subject matter is no better than The Daily Mail’s … and that is a terrible libel. So, let the ‘Freedom of the Press’ chair Justin McCurry sue us.

    Really, we should just get a copy of the FCCJ’s members list, give them a page each, and work our way through one by one.

    Rest assured though, in his successful as 4th director-at-large of the FCCJ, an organization which has “extended Justin unwavering professional support” to write such stuff, he vowed to improve the working environment by sprucing up the workroom with a bit of light interior decoration and de-cluttering.

    However, the Guardian Newspaper sandalwearers (of which I was one), ought however be concerned at the frequency which the endangered species Tuna comes up on the FCCJ menu. Surely it is time to walk your talk, or leave Justin?

    I get the feeling that a journalistic posting to Japan is just one up from a diplomatic promotion to Mongolia or something.

  27. tony said

    ”The day I see serious articles talking about the near absence of nationalist tone in the Japanese news media, particularly as compared to the South Koreans or Chinese, the near absence of controversial textbooks in Japanese schools (I think the Tsurukai just bragged they got their history book usage rate up to 1%), the extent to which the governments of both those countries deliberately fan anti-Japanese sentiment–the South Korean government financially supports it–or how the SK school system inculcates anti-Japanese attitudes, is the day I believe that one.”

    Those stories are from issues that are often covered by correspondents. You are just complaining that overseas publications don’t agree with your politics. The reason those stories aren’t written is because media have already written stories with their opposed version of the facts.

    I have to say I’m astounded that you’ve only spent two days in Japan’s capital during a quarter of a century in the country. I know you have main job but you clearly aspire to be interpreter of Japan. Don’t you think its a little hyprocritical to complain about journalist’s lack of legwork?
    ———————–

    Those stories are from issues that are often covered by correspondents. You are just complaining that overseas publications don’t agree with your politics.

    I note with interest that you divert attention from the failure of overseas publications to cover any of these facts to my “politics”.

    Of course, the “politics” behind the choice of material in those publications isn’t an issue, now is it?

    The reason those stories aren’t written is because media have already written stories with their opposed version of the facts.

    This is beyond hopeless, though I’m at a loss to understand what exactly “opposed version of the facts” means. There is no “version” of facts.

    I have to say I’m astounded that you’ve only spent two days in Japan’s capital during a quarter of a century in the country… Don’t you think its a little hyprocritical to complain about journalist’s lack of legwork?

    It’s not hypocritical to point out the facts.

    In 1991 I attended a translator’s conference at Hakone. Everyone was surprised to find out where I lived.

    Talking to a Japanese that night, he observed, “You’re better off than the rest of the people here. You get to see the real Japan.”

    Lack of legwork? Ankling on over to the FCCJ sushi bar is journalistic legwork? My time for farce is limited, I’m afraid.

    This is also the Internet age. I’d be willing to bet there is more factual information about Japan on this site than the combined annual output of the FCCJ membership, the financial writers excepted.

    But if you want to count pantie vending machine stories, rent-a-friend stories, and today’s-Japanese-aren’t-apologetic-about-an-empire-that-was-crushed-60-years-ago stories, and other stuff that your editors think your readers “want” and “need” to know, then the bet’s off.

    After notes #11 and #26 in this thread, I’m afraid your arguments aren’t going to get a whole lot of traction outside the club bar.

  28. tony said

    “This is also the Internet age. I’d be willing to bet there is more factual information about Japan on this site than the combined annual output of the FCCJ membership.”

    Wikipedia also has a lot of facts, but it’s no more a replacement for good journalism than your blog. As you’ve pointed out yourself journalism is about getting the information directly from sources.

    What don’t you understand about people having different versions of the facts? My version of the facts is that Japan’s media is not nationalistic, yours is that it is. No big deal.

    “Of course, the “politics” behind the choice of material in those publications isn’t an issue, now is it?”

    That’s precisely the issue. Media have the right to choose their material according to their bias, just as you have the right to choose media that matches your political views. If you can’t find many stories to match your political views it probably means you are in a minority, not that the media is at fault. And you are, aren’t you?

    Anyway, anyone who believes in pure journalistic objectivity or absolute facts is either a fanatic or very naive. Sometimes both, I suppose.
    —————-

    Wikipedia also has a lot of facts, but it’s no more a replacement for good journalism than your blog.

    When the FCCJ members start competing on the basis of good journalism, be sure to drop us a line.

    What don’t you understand about people having different versions of the facts?

    When people don’t report *at all* that few people actually use the Tsurukai textbooks or the SK government’s financial backing for anti-Japanese propaganda, or the different approach to Japanese-Korean relations of the education systems, we’re not talking about facts. We’re talking about the absence of good journalism.

    My version of the facts is that Japan’s media is not nationalistic, yours is that it is.

    Que?

    If you can’t find many stories to match your political views it probably means you are in a minority, not that the media is at fault.

    And here I thought you said you kept up with developments in the journalism business in the States. You seem to be as much in the dark as they are.

    Look, I have some sympathy for the fact that you’re having to deal with working in a dying smokestack industry, but the excuses are old, tired, and hollow. If the industry actually did the job it claimed to be doing, specialty websites and blogs wouldn’t exist.

  29. David B said

    Ampontan,

    As an English teacher I’m sure you know everything there is to know about journalism and journalists.

    But, unless you have read all of Justin McCurry’s writing, you’re not really in a position to get on your high horse about his work in Japan. Fair enough to criticise that one article in particular, not fair to make assumptions about his ethics, Japanese ability, etc etc.

    If I were to make a similarly unfair assumption, it would be that you have at some time been humiliated by a foreign correspondent, hence your bitter resentment and perception of them as some kind of sub-species.
    ——————-

    As an English teacher I’m sure you know everything there is to know about journalism and journalists.

    How would you as an English teacher know what I know about journalism?

    That’s how your sentence reads.

    If you think I’m an English teacher, please read the About section at the top of the page.

    I discovered that he probably does have some Japanese ability, for which I apologized.

    Nowhere did I say anything about his “ethics”–simply that he makes claims without presenting a shred of evidence for making any of those claims, some of which are far-fetched, likes to use overblown language to add impact to a thin story, and is wasting our time with stories of this type to begin with.

    Please check out note #11 for more examples of his excellent journalism.

    If I were to make a similarly unfair assumption, it would be that you have at some time been humiliated by a foreign correspondent, hence your bitter resentment and perception of them as some kind of sub-species.

    Short-circuit in logic, I’m afraid. If I order a meal in a restaurant that is inexpertly cooked and served, and is indigestible crap, I don’t need a culinary license to complain about it, nor does it mean I was humiliated by a chef at some point in my life.

    All it means is that I understand what the foreign correspondent presented in the fourth quote on the right sidebar was talking about.

    Please take a look at the third quote on the right sidebar too. If some of the people who have contributed to this thread were doing their job, he wouldn’t have said what he said, and I wouldn’t be doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

    – A.

  30. Aceface said

    Always enjoy these posts demanding Ampontan more professional ethics,knowledge,insight and legwork than the actual card carrying member of FCCJ.
    Tony:

    “But the points you raise would be lot more credible if a) you didn’t post anonymously b) you didn’t direct your attacks ad hominem. The first smells of cowardice and the second is just juvenile”

    a)Must we need “credible”of any kind to point out that rent-a-friend isn’t exactly a norm in Japanese social life nor widespread phenomenon?

    b)While I agree with you in very general sense,it seems now you are doing what you are telling others not to.I’m afraid.

    Anyway,the internet debate isn’t exactly considered as mature man’s practice in any country.Instead we hunt bears to show off our masculinity.

    “The reason those stories aren’t written is because media have already written stories with their opposed version of the facts.”

    The foreign correspondent from English speaking countries tend to ignore the fact that so-called “revisionist” history textbook only has 1.67% of market share and that’s even after being “detoxicated” by the guidelines of Ministry of Education.This means “Japanese government distort history in class room” is a bogus claim.Foreign medias write opposed version of story,but that’s neither based on fact nor truth.

    “I have to say I’m astounded that you’ve only spent two days in Japan’s capital during a quarter of a century in the country. I know you have main job but you clearly aspire to be interpreter of Japan. Don’t you think its a little hyprocritical to complain about journalist’s lack of legwork?”

    I’m not Ampontan.But I’ve lived in the nation’s capital for almost half of my life.Have been working for media for about 16 years.Still have same idea on foreign correspondents with Ampontan in general.

    David B:

    “But, unless you have read all of Justin McCurry’s writing, you’re not really in a position to get on your high horse about his work in Japan. Fair enough to criticise that one article in particular, not fair to make assumptions about his ethics, Japanese ability, etc etc.”

    I haven’t read “all” of Justin McCurry’s writing.But I’d assume you never read all of Ampontan’s posts either.
    However,I can say I’ve read plenty enough Justin McCurry stories on Japan to make my judgement on him,And I totally agree with Ampontan.
    Guardian UK has some pretty unique coverage on Japan from time to time.The most jaw-dropping one isn’t from McCurry,but his predecessor Johnathan Watts.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2003/jan/24/worlddispatch.japan
    Fred Varcoe at Japan Times wrote racist commentary on Korean.Ohmynews with all same Korean angst burned Varcoe alive.And somehow which is totally beyond me,Guardian blames Japan Times.

    You all know that our ring master don’t even get paid for his labor of love and we are only allowed to read and comment hence Bill Sakovitch allow us to do so.

    Remember.Ampontan is just a blogger living in the edge of Kyusyu blogging at his own risk,Not a correspondent of major news outlet of any kind.Always amaze me why people can be so generous about crappy work of mainstream journalism at one hand turn into vigilante-like attitude toward a guy’s blog.
    ———————-
    Varcoe is a former director of the FCCJ and editor of their publication called “Number 1 Shimbun”. I guess the Guardian would jump to his defense. Don’t you just love the name of that publication, by the way?

    You might find this interesting.

    http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/4669

    Reads like a bunch of people who need to get out in the world more.

    I came across one of Tony’s pieces in that magazine, BTW. He thought it was astonishing that political campaign posters would be hung at rubbish collection sites.

    Why would it be astonishing that political posters would be hung at a community site that someone from every household or shop visits?

    All the rubbish collection sites in my town are quite clean, so why that should be an issue, I’m not sure. But then he said he was living in a part of Kita Ward that had a lot of tatty bars and sento that let in people with tattoos.

    Had he come to my neighborhood, he would have known that those signboards for posters are often placed in spots that are centrally located and where people often go, such as next to Shinto shrines, which also makes them convenient for rubbish collection.

    And his choice of residence makes him more qualified to talk about Japan than me. Uh-huh.

    – A.

  31. James2 said

    Just noticed this new Justin McCurry article about the Taiji dolphin hunt:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/japan/090924/its-dantes-inferno-dolphins?page=0,0

    It almost reads like a press release from a radical animal rights organization, right down the descriptions of fishermen carrying out a “systematic slaughter” of dolphins “with near-impunity.” He even describes it as “barbaric.”

  32. M-Bone said

    “The reason those stories aren’t written is because media have already written stories with their opposed version of the facts.”

    And those media accounts have proven easy targets for academics who have, as in the example I cited above, time and again demolished their arguments and examined their lack of factual basis… without any impact on outlets the The Guardian who simply cannot let go of their “unrepentant nationalist” Japanese headlines. In the case of war legacies, they sell indignation, not insight.

    If McCurry has a MA, he should know damn well the quality of what gets published in Japan Forum. The lack of any answer to these criticisms on the part of the press is disappointing.

  33. Mac said

    > Just noticed this new Justin McCurry article about the Taiji dolphin hunt:
    > It almost reads like a press release from a radical animal rights organization,

    Because that is what it is basically. I recognise swathes of it from elsewhere.

    Would it have anything to do with the fact that The Cove is being shown at the FCCJ club today and they sent that press release out?

    If Justin McCurry and Rob Gilhooly went down to Wakayama on the 10th, then they got there too late to meet Ric O’Barry who left on the 8 th. So I guess Ric’s quotes are copy and paste from elsewhere too.

    I wonder why Justin needed the field trip to Wakayama, apart from the air and sushi, but Gilhooly photoshoot is here. How appetizing is that meat!?! Did they actually eat the dolphin meat at the local hotel?

    http://roblog.japanphotojournalist.com/
    http://tinyurl.com/rob-the-dolphins

    To be honest, though, I think he missed picking up on the more interesting ‘who, why, where, what, when’ sideshow that happened in his own backyard … The Tokyo International Film Festival at first bowing to unseen hands NOT to show the Sundance Festival awarded movie. Then, at a later date, bowing to “international pressure” to show it as an ‘off schedule’ after thought … The theme of this year’s TIFF festival is ‘Green’ and Ecology. So how could they have thought to ignore it … bar the influence of the sponsor.

    So, no, its just more lazy uninspired copyism.

    It would be good if Justin did come back and discuss these issues. It may be that he is just not paid to do proper work. Many of the broadsheets pay their foreign stringers peanuts.

    I regret the Hinomaru being used in the Spanish Animal Right event. It is not a “Japanese thing”. It is just the money making ventures of a few throwback fishermen. Why should “Japan” be sullied by it?

  34. tony said

    Ampontan: I didn’t find it astonishing that political posters are placed at rubbish points, I found it ironic. Your neighborhood sounds exactly like mine.

    In retrospect, my comment about you not travelling effecting the validity of your commentary was unfair, so I take it back. But my invitation to the FCCJ still stands to you or anyone else who has an opinion about the work of correspondents.

    I think it would give you a more rounded view of correspondents as people trying to do a job as well as they can rather than bears to be hunted (baited?) as Aceface well put it. Criticism and debate are great but the internet is an impersonal, and often unpleasant, venue for that.

    That’s all I have to say so I won’t comment on this thread again. I can be contacted via my blog.

  35. Aceface said

    The comment section of Guardian is more interesting than the article itself.

    Justin McCurry sez:
    “I did ask Ichinokawa if he thought his side job was unethical – his response is at the end of the piece. He charges 15,000 yen all-in, consultation and preparation included.

    I’m not sure why this piece exercises you so. Surely the fact that there is demand for these services at all – for the cultural and economic reasons I mentioned – is worthy of attention. Or should we cover intriguing social and cultural trends only when they become part of the mainstream? What a dull newspaper that would make.”

    True.But the purpose of journalism isn’t about being sexy.

    “And of course these agencies aren’t as popular as pet rental services … people tend to marry rather less frequently than they take the dog for a walk.”

    Now that’s funny.

    And here’s some troubled mind disturbed by the yet another dystopian news from Japan.

    “I find it rather sad actually. That the Japanese, in all their “efficiency,” have not managed to be able to find a balance between wealth and “society” is lamentable. That people, in a related matter, are willing to become spouses of robots, rather than seeking to connect with other humans, seems to me to be pretty scary.”

    This is what happen when you take Japanorama too seriously.

    ” Because of the Japanese sense of superiority and homogeneity, I imagine, they’d rather associate with a fake friend that actually befriend the Korean or other non-Japanese-born person next door. Truly sad and scary.”

    Not intending to be sarcastic here,but Does Mr.Ichinokawa reject using Chinese student to do the fake friend role or what?I think it would be more profitable for him to do that.Albeit the friendship isn’t real as the guy above says.

    And this line is the pure gold.

    “The (Western) First World ranks above the rest of the world, not just because of its wealth, but in its ability to create a society made up of social human beings of all stripes. That Japan has chosen to deviate completely from this trajectory is to its detriment, and I believe that ultimately, it will be proven to have erred in placing so much faith in machines rather than encouraging real human contact.”

  36. M-Bone said

    Commenter needs to trade his Evangelion DVDs for a book.

  37. TKYCraig said

    When I first read this posting it seemed like Bill was having a bad day and venting in a rather unkind way.
    Reading the article (and comments) and the replies to this posting (in particular the work of Mac) it seems quite a justified critique.

    McCurry’s twitter comment (“I write light-hearted cultural trends at my peril”) holds no water to me. It doesnt read as ‘light’ to me, and comments on the Guardian page also reflect this (“The (Western) First World ranks above the rest of the world…” …what rubbish). Some people actuall believe what is written in the papers, even if it is intended to be light, or only reflects a mere sliver of that society/culture.

    Bill has posted quite a few times against
    – the cut-and-paste journalism,
    – writings on the “wacky” nature of Japan (as if these things only happen here), and
    – Japan as some sort of “villan of East Asia”.
    All of which has me thinking about why this is.

    To (grossly!!) generalise, it seems that…
    -American media reports on “wacky” Japan to distract readers from the internal craziness of the USA (… you know, Gun crazies, Religious crazies, Racial superiority nuts etc).
    -Australia seems fixated with the whaling issue, and I guess it is because a) the hunting is happening near Australia, b) whales have some inherent acceptability to preserve vs kangaroos, ducks, pigs etc that also get hunted and c) Norweigans and others who eat whale just look too ‘Western’ to hold any greiveance against. *
    -British coverage fits two paths… the ‘wacky Japan’ and ‘unrepentant/villan Japan’. (Bill has at least another BBC-related post on a similar line). I havent fathomed out why this seems to be the prevailing attitude though. What has affected Britain to hol such a stance? Is it because Japan has overtaken it economically, or because Japan was an integral part in the decline of the Empire in the Asian sphere?

    * Is Australia a racist country? Generally speaking no would be my answer… but there are a few Indian and Asian students studying in Australia who would say otherwise. There are also a lot of people moving out of the major capitals to get away from Asian and African migrants. You wont find it in the press so easily, but it is happening.

  38. Aceface said

    “Commenter needs to trade his Evangelion DVDs for a book”

    Yeah,a chap with a mind who believes”The (Western) First World ranks above the rest of the world” just because “rent-a-friend is a rising trend in Tokyo” should hit his head at the edge of a tofu and start reading Oswald Schpengler or something.

  39. Ryan H said

    All these long-winded responses… It really comes down to the fact that it sells, and if his articles continue to sell, why would he bother changing the way he is writing? Sure it’s a pretty poor misrepresentation made out to be more than it is, but isn’t that nearly everything in the media? There are so many things blow way out of proportion in the media, and THIS is what so many of you have to spend so much time and effort criticizing? You’re spending more time criticizing this article then the man probably spent writing it. In my opinion, it’s a load of unnecessary drama.

  40. Ajapa said

    Sorry for breaking the debate, but just for your information.

    The first appearance of this “rent-a-friend” niche industry to the world seems to be either by Reuters Blogs entry

    Rent-a-guest bulks up weddings
    by Yoko Kubota, published on 04:22 June 9th, 2009

    or by Telegraph’s article

    Japanese company does thriving trade in ‘fake friends’
    by Danielle Demetriou, published on 4:52PM BST 09 Jun 2009

    In both articles, the author mentioned on a company Office Agents and interviewed with Hiroshi Mizutani who heads the company.

  41. Aceface said

    Not much of a debate,actually.And thanks for the variable info,Ajapa.
    I’m typing a memo now to Office Agents whther they are interested into staring new business of Fake foreign correspondent.
    I’ve already put my own name and Ampontan’s on the staff list.

  42. Mac said

    Thank you, Craig.

    Yes, given Justin McCurry’s educational background, and his employer’s market and editorial stance, the bent of his reporting is questionable. I just want to know whether it is what Justin wants to write (bizarre cyber-suicide … bizarre cold war … bizarre businessmen … bizarre first ladies … bizarre health care … bizarre), or what the editors want him to write? How much directorial discussion goes on about it between the two? It may not be his fault but then if it is not, it surely becomes a question of his personal ethics.

    Would I sit churning out “bizarre” articles about my host nation for money?

    Although I do not always agree with Ampontan, I do wholly agree that in the greater picture of things reportage about Japan – especially from the UK and USA – is hugely misshapen and requires correction.

    Interestingly … from 2005 … someone else also accuses Justin of being xenophobia and writing “wacky Japanese” material … ‘I do’ to ‘I won’t’ By Justin McCurry Tokyo April 5, 2005

    http://otherrants.blogspot.com/2005/04/sexless-marriage-japanese-style.html

    Why would The Guardian be buying into that kind of reporting … and racialism? It is the Leftie ‘right on’ newspaper and actually one of the last good ones, along with FT and The Telegraph on the other side, which actually attempts journalism. IMHO, the UK’s BBC is rank with “Whacky Jap”, or Wartime stuff, and deficient in alternatives.

    Sadly, I think the ‘rent-a-friend’ story could have been covered in a very serious manner that would have suited the Guardian very well as it hints at deeper, underlining and very tragic elements of Japanese society that need discussing and resolving or progressing (bullying/the seriousness of outcasting etc) … which is why – on top of his lack of re-appearance – I remain critical of Chicken McCurry.

    It also makes me think I should start up a “Scary Gaijin Friend Agency” for hiring out “scary gaijin” to go around intimidating classroom and office bullies on their victims’ behalf.

    ——-

    Postscript

    About 250 journalists and others attended The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan to see a screening of “The Cove” movie about the Taiji dolphin slaughter yesterday. Apparently they had to open up a second room to accommodate the crowd. I will be interested to see how this is played out in the press and whether they can skirt the nationalist elements. The activist’s focus is upon the mercury contamination instead avoiding any “cultural” elements.

    The defence of whaling as being a nationalist issue is a false one. Dolphin hunting and whaling are simply commercial activities.

  43. Aki said

    Mr. Ichinokawa, whom Mr. McCurry interviewed, writes the followings on his website.

    “実は、この秋に‘ドキュメント映画‘製作の話が進んでおります。きっかけは今年1月中旬に放送された、英国BBC放送の番組のなかでこの活動が紹介され(取材もされず、在日1○年の記者が勝手に訳して誤訳ばかりで放送された。)、その番組を見たデンマーク人の…”

    According to this statement, a foreign reporter who has been in Japan for more than a decade made a distorted report on Mr. Ichinokawa’s business, and it was used on a TV program on BBC this January.

  44. Mulboyne said

    Mr McMurry’s story on this certainly wasn’t the first this year in the English language press. It was at least the sixth. In January, the BBC featured Hagemashitai in a Japan segment of “From Our Own Correspondent” , broadcast as a audio segment but also published as a transcript on their website. It was noticed by Matt Alt and David Marx who immediately wrote about it on the Neojaponisme site, criticizing the piece’s attempt to connect “fake friends” with hostess clubs and pet rental cafes.

    When I saw the recent Guardian story, I noted on another forum that the real trend didn’t seem to be “fake friends in Japan” but the tendency of the foreign media to cover the subject. In addition to the Reuters and Telegraph, the Office Agents website notes that they have also featured in English language coverage in Business Week and the Japan Times. Stranger still, Julian Ryall of the Daily Telegraph was prompted by McMurry’s story to cover it again for his paper, seemingly unaware that his colleague Danielle Demetriou already did so three months earlier.

    However, as Adamu has already noted on this site, foreign journalists usually learn about these stories from the Japanese press. Again, the Office Agents website notes they have been mentioned since February by Nagoya TV, the Nikkei, twice by NTV, TBS, Toyo Keizai, Fuji TV, the Asahi Shimbun, TV Asahi, Yomiuri TV and FM-Fuji. They also note a mention in the Korean Hankyoreh.

    I think Adamu’s take on the piece is the most sensible. It’s not a subject which should be declared off limits to foreign journalists and it seems silly to argue for that. Personally, I would criticize Mr McMurry more for his lack of originality. Not every story can be a scoop and any correspondent will find themselves trailing after the competition on some occasion. However, this doesn’t seem to be an item which has become required coverage, nor has there been any news to make it seem more relevant. The Guardian’s readers would have been better served if Mr McMurry had looked for a new human interest story in Japan rather than coming in sixth this year. He might like to take comfort in mocking Mr Ryall who put his recent version out seemingly without checking his own firm’s archives.

    While I also appreciate Ampontan’s efforts to translate and discuss items which don’t tend to make it overseas, I don’t believe his attack on this article and McMurry really does him any credit. The criticisms seem unreasonably petty, the personal attacks unnecessary. McMurry also hasn’t covered himself in glory by sniping back. There is a genuine discussion to have about how the foreign media covers Japan, whether that means just traditional outlets or also blogs and social media. I find journalists have a lot to say on the subject, especially as they see the role of their own organizations increasingly called into question on financial, practical and ethical grounds.

  45. Mac said

    Very adroit post, Mulboyne, but McMurry? I think you mean Justin McCurry.

    Not that one would want mention the name again, of course, as it would only raise Ampontan’s blog up in the Google rankings for it.

    Justin did himself and The Guardian a disservice … but continues to himself even more of a disservice by not coming back to finish what he tweeting well started.

  46. Aceface said

    It’s McCurry.Mulboyne.Although I should be the last person to talk about spelling.Anyway informative as always.Impressed.

    ”I don’t believe his attack on this article and McMurry really does him any credit. The criticisms seem unreasonably petty, the personal attacks unnecessary.”

    In defense of Ampontan.Ampontan IS the target of unreasonably petty criticisms and personal attacks from various sources from time to time.

    “I find journalists have a lot to say on the subject, especially as they see the role of their own organizations increasingly called into question on financial, practical and ethical grounds.”

    Which reminds me about Edward Lincoln keep repeating the mantra of”Japan isn’t important”in the 90’s and ends up losing his post at Brookings,since Japan isn’t important anymore.

    Nowadays there’s very little merit in maintaining Tokyo bureau for most international media outlets and decline of Japan and financial situation is largely to be blamed for the situation.But then again,it should be noted that poor performances of journalists at FCCJ didn’t particulary help to turn the trend but rather helped accelerating that.

  47. Mulboyne said

    I’d like to able to explain that away by claiming that “c” and “m” sound the same in my first language or that I’m a slave to a Fred MacMurray fetish. The truth is it was a stupid mistake. Seriously, I don’t have a Fred MacMurray fetish.

  48. ampontan said

    Mulboyne: Thanks for the post. I don’t think stories of this type are off-limits. My question is why do the people who write these stories consider much more worthwhile topics about Japan to be off-limits.

    I understand they’re in the infotainment business, and Michael Jackson/Princess Di nado nado nado sells more, but they’re not really being honest about what they do, are they?

    While they get these stories from Japanese sources, the Japanese consumer knows the context in which to place them and doesn’t exaggerate their importance. The overseas audience can’t do that, and uses these stories to create their own artificial context of the kind I described in Why Journalism is Important.

    As for McCurry’s story, it was amateurish even by Western journalism standards regardless of the topic.

    I really do spend most of my time with Japanese-language sources, including books and monthly magazines, so I wasn’t aware of the previous stories. I have an RSS feed with plenty of English-language stories, but I usually just glance at the headlines.

    That so many news organizations thought it necessary to run this story speaks volumes, as they say.

  49. […] More journo snickering at Japan, #4,625 HERE’S ANOTHER overseas correspondent in Japan wasting his own time and that of his readers at the breakfast table: […] […]

  50. […] certainly not, but the author of the Guardian article in question steps into the comments on Ampontan’s blog to defend his article. I don’t think this article was meant to be mean-spirited, but Ampontan […]

  51. […] certainly not, but the author of the Guardian article in question steps into the comments on Ampontan’s blog to defend his article. I don’t think this article was meant to be mean-spirited, but Ampontan […]

  52. Vance said

    What’s up, for all time i used to check web site posts here in the early hours in the daylight, as i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

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