Why NYT didn’t relocate to Tokyo
The author is a Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The New York Times recently announced its plan to move part of its digital news operation from Hong Kong to Seoul as the situation becomes more uncertain due to the national security law. The New York Times chose Seoul for “its friendliness to foreign businesses.” In addition to the woring environment for press, the NYT also seems to have considered the Covid-19 situation.
Traditionally, Tokyo has been the center of information in Asia. Many media companies were based in Tokyo and covered East Asia, including Seoul, Pyongyang and Beijing. So it’s meaningful that the Times chose Seoul, not Tokyo, as its new base.
Recently, the Japanese foreign ministry has been receiving inquiries from foreign media about when the entry ban will be lifted and when press visas will be issued again. A reporter with a European media company in Tokyo complained of his frustration about “not being able to go abroad because there was no guarantee for reentry.”
Japanese citizens deserve a to be praised for responding calmly to the Covid-19 crisis. But I feel alienated, as they don’t really think about things beyond the boundary of reality, as illustrated in the slogan, “Do what we can now,” which frequently appear on newspapers.
Rather than being in despair and getting angry, Japanese people want to do what they can for now. It may sound reasonable, but they often fall far from resolving problems. Simply put, what can be done is different from what has to be done.
The potential problems with that attitude have been revealed during Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak. As testing capacity fell short, the government made the testing manual very strict. Patients can be tested only when they have a fever for more than three days and trouble breathing. Many people died before being tested.
The manual has since been scrapped, but testing is not offered in the field properly. Earlier this month, a group infections originated at a theater in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The disease control authorities announced that 850 people, including the audience, would be tested, but the results are not out yet. One viewer inquired at the clinic and was told that he could be tested after two weeks if he makes an appointment now. Among new cases in Tokyo, 60 percent don’t know where they contracted the virus.
The Japanese government is making efforts, increasing daily testing to 10,000. But six months have passed since Covid-19 started. Japan needs to speed up what must be done.