This study analyzed the Tokyo Big Three commercial newspapers (Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri) in the wake of Japan’s postwar independence and emergence as a sovereign democracy. The aim of this study was to examine how the Tokyo Big Three depicted and incorporated Japan’s citizens into democracy with regard to their newly inherited role as the sovereign and political citizen of a democracy; a role in which the people were inexperienced. This mediated citizenship project analyzed 8335 articles (April - October 1952) in the immediate wake of Japan’s postwar independence. It focused on what the Big Three had prioritized in their news selection and predicted that, unlike current mediated citizenship trends where citizens are largely seen as emotional beings who have little to do or say about politics, would portray them, in an exploratory fashion, as politically responsible and normative democratic citizens. It was found that, while the Tokyo Big Three repeatedly declared the importance of the political socialization of the citizen, nevertheless, overwhelmingly omitted political citizens from the news. When citizens were mentioned, their depiction was for the most part negative, criticized over their political immaturity and lack of knowledge. The study revealed that the Japanese media functioned in a 'trickster' like fashion; voicing a particular narrative on one hand while simultaneously functioning in a way that appears to contradict the articulated narrative’s initial intentions.
Jun Tsukada, Ibaraki University, Japan