|What the papers said today, 19 January 2018|
Friday, January 19, 2018
Mr Turnbull comes to Tokyo...
...a look at the media response
Just 18 hours, a quick trip, a contrast with visits in the past which might have spread out over two days, cabinet minister to cabinet minister. In the 1970s, Japan and Australia instituted regular ministerial meetings which included key Cabinet ministers on both sides and held mostly annually until their ultimate demise in the late 1980s (maybe there was on last breath in the early 1990s). One of the last, the 1989 meeting, took a theme of a 'constructive partnership' and it was about this time we began to see Australian governments begin to 'encourage' Japan to strengthen its defence capabilities. In the context of Japan's comprehensive security approach at the time, so much more might have become of this gentle encouragement. Instead, almost thirty years later, Japan and Australia are on the verge of signing a Visiting Forces Agreement, VFA (訪問部隊地位協定）and security is now less comprehensive and concern more heightened. (And it alarms me I've been doing this for thirty years...)
PM Abe arrived back in Tokyo on 17 January from a six-country trip to the Baltic states and eastern Europe to walk into a meeting with Australian PM Turnbull on 18 January. This visit included a trip by helicopter to Narashino in Chiba, to a self-defence force training facility, not quite a review of the troops but Turnbull was able to see first-hand how Australian-built Bushmasters were being used by Japanese personnel. After a business lunch with Australian and Japanese business leaders, the Australian prime minister was back to meetings with PM Abe including sitting in on the Japanese National Security Council (NSC) before a joint media conference at 7.33pm and then a state dinner until 9.17pm. The detail comes from the 'Prime Minister's Day' published in most major papers, daily.
Mr Turnbull, known for using public transport in Australia, was also captured by the media catching the Marunouchi Subway Line for a couple of stops, vision of which remained up on Asahi Digital for much of the day today (19 January).
In the era of social and digital media, reporting of the prime minister's visit was happening pretty much in real time during the day, but I'm a bit old-fashioned and in my PhD days, with my academic training wheels on, one of my research tasks included trawling through the newspapers for all and any story that mentioned Japan and Australia...that's what we do. Or did. I imagine the young ones today get to do it all via search engines.
But, there's nothing like surprising the staff at the station kiosk on days like today, buying up five newspapers, along with my usual coffee and snack pack. (I also do this on the days on and around election days...they are getting used to my eccentricities.) Measured in column inches, airwaves and increasingly these days social media likes and comments, the day in Tokyo didn't go unnoticed (although students in my seminar class this morning, when asked, weren't aware of the visit).
To begin with, first thing this morning on my regular radio program, PM Turnbull's visit was the first issue of Morimoto Takero's 'Standby' program, on TBS radio from 6.30am. The defence cooperation was mentioned in the context of how North Korea might respond but perhaps the most telling comment was to remind listeners 'Mr Turnbull of course had *that* conversation with President Trump'...indeed, it was food for the commentariat many days after it was reported last year. Mostly astonishment that a president would speak to another leader like that (that, and Trump's notorious handshake with Abe around the same time).
To the newspapers then:
Asahi Shimbun on page four, covered the visit in three articles:
日豪、防衛協力を深化、北朝鮮に圧力強化 ( a deepening of defence cooperation, applying pressure to North Korea)
日米印豪が協議 インド太平洋の安保, US, Japan, India and Australia in consultations on Indo-Pacific security (referring to the conference simultaneously held in Dehli)