JAPANESE AND U.S. MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE IRAQ WAR: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
Schreurs, Miranda A.
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This study investigates the relationship between the media and politics by analyzing the Iraq War coverage of two leading U.S. and Japanese newspapers: <em> the New York Times </em> and <em> the Asahi</em>. This dissertation reveals that these two print media, although both liberal in their general orientation, treated the Iraq War differently. First, it quantitatively finds that they are quite distinctive in their choice of main topics. During the run-up period to the war, <em> the Asahi </em> put more focus on the role of the United Nations while the majority of the stories appearing in <em> the New York </em> addressed U.S. decisions about Iraq. Second, the dissertation's qualitative analysis of editorials reveals that a different emphasis on who the "evil" doers in the war are. While <em> the New York </em> treated the oppressive Saddam Hussein regime and terrorists as the "evildoers," <em> the Asahi </em> portrayed the U.S. as the big evil doer. Further, content analysis of articles written by embedded journalists who were with coalition forces in Iraq revealed that the two newspapers' articles showed significant disparities in the degree of sympathy they showed to the forces. Numerous background factors have influenced this media content. Interviews with Japanese journalists and scholars revealed that the cultures of anti-militarism held by Japanese that originated from Japan's defeat in World War II remain firm within Japanese news organizations. Anti-militaristic sentiments and cultural factors, such as religion, appear to have influenced how their organizations portrayed the war in Iraq. Further, this dissertation statistically shows that the media's impact is significant in shaping the political agenda and public opinion. Poll data of Japanese sentiments about the United States show a decline in positive feelings towards the United States as the ratio of negative stories of U.S. Iraq policies carried by <em> the Asahi </em> rose. In addition, <em> the Asahi's </em> critical assessments of the Japanese government's Iraq policies showed a moderate negative congruence with public support for their Cabinet. Also, there was a moderate negative relationship between <em> the New York Times'</em> unfavorable coverage of the U.S. government's policies of Iraq and presidential approval ratings.