Framing sexual assault in Japan Ardent or apathetic?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: In September 2017, freelance journalist Shiori Itō filed a lawsuit against the prominent TV reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi for sexual assault. The somewhat obscure investigative and legal handling of the case prompted notable international media coverage, however domestic coverage has been comparatively scarce and apathetic. The media’s act of presenting news in a certain manner is referred to as media framing, and it is commonly theorised that such framing impacts audience perception of a given issue. Accepting this premise, the thesis sought to answer the question; how is the sexual assault case involving Shiori Itō depicted and framed in Japanese mainstream news media? Employing the methodological approach of framing analysis, underlying frames and tones were uncovered within a meaningful sample of Japanese news articles and discussed relative to their potential impact on audience perception of sexual assault cases as well as the resulting implications for social movements in Japan. The findings indicate that; mainstream media framing of Itō’s case is predominately characterised by a combination of emotionally detached, factual coverage, and favourable coverage of Itō, respectively. Although the underlying framing differs, neither depiction presents tangible ways for the audience to assist in improving the circumstances surrounding victims of sexual assault.

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