Bang? I never heard anything!

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

So here we are in Japan. A relatively few miles across the ocean we have Mad Uncle Ernie (aka Kim Jong-Il) who sits out on the porch with a half-empty whiskey bottle beside him and his loaded shotgun across his knees. Occasionally he swigs from the bottle and raises the shotgun to his shoulder, pointing it meaningfully at anyone whom he thinks might refill the bottle. The other day he fired it in a pretty random direction.

So, with a nuclear neighbor who appears to tread the fine line between downright craziness and straws-in-the-hair lunacy, letting off atomic bombs (of dubious efficacy, true), and lobs missiles (of equal sophistication) in Japan's general direction, you would expect this to dominate the Japanese news, wouldn't you?

Nope. NHK's 7 o'clock news was dominated by the Taro & Yukio comedy knockabout team, a juicy double murder and arson, a bureaucrat scandal, swine flu, and... oh yes, in news article #6 or #7... DPRK has declared that it may regard itself at war with ROK. Can no longer guarantee safety of ROK ships. Disputed islands now DPRK's. The whole nine yards short of an actual shooting war. For all of 30 seconds or so, accompanied by stock footage of ROK commandos, naval vessels, etc. Then we move onto the baseball. Oh, and No's death not mentioned at all.

Typically, NHK news seems to be as concerned with events in DPRK as in Japan - the Dear Leader's birthday or the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the National People's Manure Processing Collective is usually good for at least 5 minutes of stock footage of the People's Army goose-stepping its way through Pyongyang and the rockets trundling past the World Leader With The World's Worst Hairdresser. Or another failed meeting of the 6-party talks is always worth an NHK prime spot and 10 minutes of "reporters" breathlessly stating the obvious ("North Korea rejected US demands for immediate inspections"). But today, when there is actually something to report that might have an impact on Japan? Nada. Zilch. Nichts. Not a lot in the print media, either. You would think that the rapid deterioration of relations between Japan's two closest neighbors might provoke a reaction from the media? No way.

So why might this be? Various ideas spring to mind. "Don't frighten the population," is one. Hard to believe, when we have just witnessed endless news shots of Army (sorry, GSDF) medical personnel sprinting towards planes at Narita, dressed for heart surgery, where they will spend 4 hours checking a plane to ensure no-one has the new type of flu. University professors from little-known universities dragged forward to give their opinions on how dangerous the new flu will be when it hits Tokyo, and how wearing masks and gargling is a surefire way to prevent infection (I'd like to know how many of the 400 cases, despite all precautions, were wearing masks prior to infection). But maybe the politicians felt that the Japanese public teacup couldn't weather yet another storm.

Or the Japanese media was told to shut up and not rock the boat. These orders ultimately came from...? The USA? China? Russia? ROK? Korean "special interest" groups resident in Japan with ties to the powers that be? I must admit that I was expecting the Yokotas (the couple whose daughter was abducted) to be besieged for their predictable comments, or even the returned kindnapped Japanese (but they don't talk to the press any more and no-one seems to ask their opinion on DPRK, at least publicly). But no. Nothing. Someone's decided that war between neighbors, atomic bombs going off next door and missiles launched in Japan's general direction is not fit for the Japanese news media.

Or... I can’t think of a third reason off the top of my head. Maybe tomorrow, but not right now.

Weird stuff going on here.


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