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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

“Fukushima” in Japan: Media System, Networks and Framing

Verantwortlich für das Dissertationsprojekt: Dr. Tobias Weiss (Dissertation 2019)
Finanzierung: Humer-Stiftung für akademische Nachwuchskräfte
Projektdauer: 2012–2017
Promotionskommission: Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci, Asien-Orient-Institut – Japanologie / UFSP Asien und Europa; Prof. Dr. Benedikt Korf, Geographisches Institut / UFSP Asien und Europa
Forschungsfeld: Normen und Ordnungen


The project focuses on the role of media organizations and journalists in the interpretation of environmental problems. It looks at nuclear power and the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. Starting from the observation that the media interpretation of the accident differs strongly between Japanese and non-Japanese media it asks for the circumstances under which such differences develop.  It combines literature of Japanese social science with recent approaches on media systems and framing.

Research on political communication in Japan offers two conflicting models of Japanese journalism. In one model its role as a counterforce against political power and as a driver of political reform is underlined. In the other model it is seen as conservative power, which does not set an own agenda and mainly reproduces the discourse of power holders. Journalists of the big media companies are criticized for their reliance on press clubs – spaces for journalists located at companies, federations and government agencies.

The project tries to build a more differentiated model of Japanese media. It compares the reporting on nuclear power in important Japanese newspapers in a framing analysis over time. In a second step the development of nuclear power framing is connected with qualitative interviews on the circumstances in media organizations and data on personal and organizational networks of journalists. It is argued, that the framing of nuclear power is influenced strongly by organizational rules and networks. Against the assumptions of the existing models, significant differences in framing between the newspapers can be found. The differences can be explained mainly with differing development of network integration and organizational rules.