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Japan: Media System

Yasuhiro Inoue and Youichi Ito


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Japan is an advanced industrialized country whose GNP/GDP is the second largest in the world. Its population is 127 million, which is the ninth largest in the world. The political system is a parliamentary democracy with the emperor as the state figurehead. The literacy rate is nearly 100 percent, and the per-capita income is about the same as that of other advanced industrialized countries. The income disparity is small for a capitalist economy, leading most people to believe that they belong to the middle class. The first general election was held in 1890, and the National Diet, Japan's parliament, opened soon afterwards. However, Japanese democracy from 1890 through 1945 was unstable and had many systemic problems. Due to these problems, the government was taken over by the military around 1937, and what was in effect a military dictatorship continued from then until the end of World War II in 1945. The new constitution, which was drawn up under the guidance of the American occupation forces, removed all those failures inherent in the prewar constitution. The new constitution guarantees complete freedom of expression and prohibits government censorship. The Japanese media system naturally reflects Japan's history as well as its social and cultural characteristics. Most major newspaper companies in Japan hold their shares internally. Japan's corporate law allows this internal ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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