"Waiwai - an insight into subculture or just for fun?"

A bit about Wai Wai

The notorious WaiWai section of the Mainichi online English version is often the center of a debate on its legitimacy. Some voice that it enables non-Japanese speakers to understand the subculture of Japan, finding stories that they would be unable to get otherwise. Others say that the WaiWai is nothing more than tabloid tidbits, with no form of legitimacy and not worth reading, other than just for amusement.

According to A Feed is Born, a blog about “rss, webfeeds and information overload,” until last year, the MDN site displayed a disclaimer statement to legally distance itself from WaiWai:

“WaiWai stories are transcriptions of articles that originally appeared in Japanese language publications. The Mainichi Daily News cannot be held responsible for the contents of the original articles, nor does it guarantee their accuracy. Views expressed in the WaiWai column are not necessarily those held by the Mainichi Daily News or the Mainichi Newspapers Co. WaiWai © Mainichi Newspapers Co. 1989-2007.”

This would make sense if the WaiWai articles really weren’t the views held by the Mainichi group. However, 9 out of 10 of the articles featured today were all taken from Mainichi affiliated newspapers and magazines, containing nice little plugs such as “With a circulation of over 1 million, Sports Nippon is the largest of Japan’s sports newspapers, national dailies with heavy doses of sports, entertainment and news stories often shunned by the mainstream broadsheets” and “Sunday Mainichi, a respectable current affairs weekly magazine published by the Mainichi Newspapers.”

With this in mind, no wonder that the above disclaimer has been removed in place of the less legally-minded statement:

“The infamous “WaiWai” column continues exposing secrets revealed by wild weekly magazines, and feature stories about traditional aspects of Japan serve as a tasteful offset.”

A tasteful offset? If we knew what the “tasteful” articles are, we might better understand their defense. But finding these is like finding a needle in a haystack, and even if you do, can you really trust a newspaper that prides itself on sensationalist, half-fabricated stories? As Japan Probe says about a bar article in the WaiWai, “It is pretty interesting, but it makes me wonder if it is truth, or a story planted by a happening bar to attract costumers.”

But to be really honest, I think none of us can deny that secretly, we enjoy reading it.


Other posts by Anna:


To be honest, once I figured out that I was reading a load of garbage I was a little angry. I don't mind sensationalist bs stories per se, but the these stories are being used by bigots to emphasize some misguided ideas they have about Japan and Japanese culture. I'm no Japan fanboy but I really don't think we need this crap which is just fuel for bigotry.

The Waiwai column was great as it was fun and gave an insight into what the tabloids were focusing on. Yes, some stories may have been bizzare (bestiality restaurants, etc) but the response of shutting down the site completely and punishing the editor (as indicated by Mainichi on June 23) and aplogizing is overdoing it. It is akin to killing the messenger rather than the message. However, it is the typical Japanese way of demonstrating that "steps to prevent recurrence" have been taken by the Mainichi that was subject to public criticism. It is sad but there is no other way for the Mainichi to quell the noise.

Reminds me when my office introduced a policy of banning computers from being taken home (it still stands) because one guy had misplaced his computer (which was later found) which could have caused loss of confidential data. The ban for the entire office was the price that the management felt was necessary to pay to prevent a repeat (saihatsu boushi taisaku).

The interesting thing about this controversy is that almost all Wai Wai content was nothing more than translations of articles that appeared in Japanese weekly tabloids and daily sports papers. "The Face" column seemed to have been put together from various Japanese news sources. There was no original writing at all. I had the feeling that many of the stories, such as the bestiality restaurant, were simply made up. However, they were not made up by the Wai Wai editor, but rather the writers of Friday, Sunday, and loads of other Japanese rags that no one seems to complain about. Admittedly, Wai Wai never passed up the chance to throw in innuendos and dirty puns. It seems that all the fuss is not about reporting on possibly apocryphal stories of potentially offensive things happening in Japan. If that were the case, then the tabloids would have been been attack. It seems people were just upset about this being read by people outside Japan.

almost all Wai Wai content was nothing more than translations of articles

I disagree. They were not translations in the strict sense of the term. They seemed to be full of additional racialist phrases and false generalisations that were not written in the originals. That's because many feel waiwai is not only sexist but also racist.

It seems people were just upset about this being read by people outside Japan.

Few believe in what is written in this type of tabloids(jitsuwa-kei) and in fact they are full of lies. The problem is that most of foreigners don't know the social contexts in which this type of dirty journalism exists and how to read these trashes. I saw so many easily believe in fake news. And Mainichi is not a tabloid, but a respected newspaper known for investigative journalism. That's because this suicidal act shocked so many people. I believe many would not care if waiwai were at tabloid site named "Tabloid Tokyo" or something like that.

I am more upset about Mainichi Elementary School News Paper(毎日小学生新聞) placing a link to waiwai so that students of elementary schools could see!
Mainichi cannot make any excuse of it.
They are published by the same company.

I don't see any WaiWai(or RapeRape) on The AGE(www.theage.com.au)
Does anyone know where that is?

I just wanted to know how the Australians are aiding crime in Australia. There got to be a link to it on the top page.
if not, i should say it is hidden from the rest of the world.

waiwai is way forward

NO. WaiWai column didn't give an insight into what the tabloids were focusing on, but what the editors wanted to focuse on and only revealed their desires.

As a long-time resident of Japan, I thought this day was bound to come sooner or later.
Frankly, I think this Wai Wai controversy has done Japan a great favor. These tabloid stories have been running for decades, and not in underground pornography magazines, but in regular men's and women's magazines available over the counter in convenience stores, train station kiosks, supermarkets, etc.
Mainichi Shinbun should be commended for letting its English website shine the light on this shadowy side of everyday life in Japan, and the editors (be they foreign and/or Japanese) should receive medals from the emperor himself for helping bring Japan into the global community.
I am sure there are many Japanese citizens who genuinely hate the thought of the dirty and disgusting tabloid stories being translated into English for an international audience, simply because they hate the Japanese tabloid media in the first place.
But it seems the majority of complaints are coming from people who are suffering from the shame of having their dirty little secret exposed to the world.
The irony is that this anti-Wai Wai campaign is bound to backfire. I wouldn't be surprised if ten Wai Wai copycat site appear within the next month. There is obviously a big international market for this kind of content.
And with the G8 summit approaching, I'm sure the mainstream international media will blow the lid off this percolating public panic and witch hunt.

JapanInc blogger Anna Kitanaka is already leading the way.

I'm sure the mainstream international media will blow the lid off this percolating public panic and witch hunt.

I believe more than 99% Japanese don't know this incident now because TV don't report it at all. If the mainstream international(aka English) media report it, the Japanese public will notice the tabloidization of Mainichi's English edition and Mainichi will be severely damaged.

This site... http://www.mainichiwaiwai.com

has already come underfire from Japan. Seems they want to eliminate all traces of Waiwai huh? Are there any other internet sites that show Japanese weeklies in English? Seems like their shutting down WaiWai just increases people's interest in it, whereas before they may not have even paid attention to it.

Like someone said earlier, the problem is that Mainichi Newspaper is not a tabloid

Let's say Washington Post has a Japanese language version and the column features the translation of article from Tabloid. What do American feel??

Konnichi ha Kitanaka san,

How are you? I'm the guy that tried unsuccessfully to run the mainichiwaiwai.com site for 24 hours before Mainichi jumped on me about copyright violations.

Since you've stated a positive interest in the old articles, I was wondering if you'd be interested in writing some *new* WaiWai content for me to post online? Since you're a journalist and all ... And maybe you have access to some of these "Shuukan Shincho" source materials?

Of course, you could use an alias. I could pay you via PayPal. Maybe we could try $50 (US) per article and see if there's any interest?

What do you think?

Kind regards,

- Jay Link

Hi Jay.

Thanks for the suggestion but unfortunately, I will be unable to take you up on the offer.However, I would imagine that there are plenty of people that would and "Shuukan Shincho" is sold everywhere so that won't be a problem.

Just out of interest, why are you so keen to see a continuation of WaiWai? Advertising revenue?

It will be interesting to see the reaction to your idea of re-starting WaiWai...

Please keep us posted.

A good collection here:

Cut and paste into your own blog before it gets taken down again. Let's spread wai-wai and thwart those that don't understand how important freedom of speech is.

Iam so much disappointed by what everyone is saying about waiwai.
The stuff they write is true.
Having been here for a really longtime i find it amusing that Many japanese (2 channelers) dont want the world to know what is going on behind the scenes in Japan.
It is such a pity Mainichi had to succumb to these fellows.

To jay>>
lets talk to Mainichi, try and find a way to keep waiwai going on.
I can organise the manpower and some funds to start up a private waiwai site. About the advertsing thats my area of expertise we
can get sponsers to keep us going.( in ref to the public outcry over this issue)
Drop me aline

You may completely misunderstand who eagerly needs to gloss over waiwai thing. Japanese people are now searching waiwai articles to make it translated into Japanese and wanting to let others (friends, families and colleages) know this problem. Rather, Mainichi Daily News and Mainichi newspaper are trying to destroy evidences related to waiwai with their lives. Why?

Everyone knows tabloids often make fabricated articles. It is not a problem at all if tabloids are transrated into foreign languages correctly and named properly. Mainichi Daily news is (was) not a tabloid; moreover, it changed the fabricated articles from tabloid for the worse!
As more Japanese people know waiwai thing, Mainichi would find itself in dire straits because all Japanese are to easily know waiwai ariticles are awful libelous fictions.

How else would a newspaper company delete 9 years of the articles? Big stiff from Japanese people? Ha! No way! It could occur in your country, unfortunately never in Japan. I really hope if we could!

This just serves as a reminder that Japan is still deeply insecure about how the outside world perceives it.

The "language barrier" serves a dual purpose - it both shields Japan from the outside world and shields the outside world from Japan. In native English land, we just assume that everything written will be known to the entire world. The collective Japanese psyche has a very different perspective.