The first was posted via their response form to the Managing Director, with a request that they afford me the right of reply to their article:
I would first like to thank Japan Times for giving my little blog far more attention than it deserves. More seriously, however, the article from Stuart Braun regarding "Trolls or media watchdogs" is not much more than a character assassination by innuendo.
The headline presented a false dichotomy – I’m just another nobody with opinions and a blog to express them on. If Mr Braun had chosen, as his opening paragraph promised, to focus on the question of whether the foreign media has it in for Japan, he could have produced a rather interesting article, I would guess, but instead the conclusion appears to have been written first, and then an article of epic length wrapped around it.
The article goes off the rails from the first words in the second paragraph: "Though right-wing Japanese apologists"; the article craftily sneaks in an "also" later in the sentence to avoid directly associating me and others mentioned with the right-wingers, but the underlying theme throughout the article is that we are no better that, indeed no different from, the rabid netouyo. There then comes a direct accusation:
the pro-Japaners have employed an effective counter-attack strategy: Banded behind a small but deafening band of bloggers, YouTubers and citizen journalists of sorts, this informal alliance generate legion online comments, blog posts and video channel chat-fests that systematically seek to discredit media they say are bent on fear-mongering about the country."
(I’m a bit confused how an informal alliance can be systematic, but we’ll let that pass.) "Legion online comments"? Where? Mr Braun only offers one thread on The Economist and my and Japan Probe’s blogs as evidence. Indeed, talking of The Economist, when I first wrote about the Gaijin Gulag story I said "This rather impressive (in a bad way) tale of incarceration [...] takes the sting off fully-documented cases from Amnesty by telling a story so full of holes that it quite frankly stinks." Hardly the words of a Japan-loving wrong-doing-denying apologist!
Later on, when talking about the Miki Dezaki case, Mr Braun says "In ways, these foreign-born cyber-warriors parallel the infamous netouyo (‘Internet right’)", but if Mr Braun had actually taken the time to talk with me he would have learnt that I had posted in support of Mr Dezaki against his tormentors. Another fact that Mr Braun would have learnt if he had chosen to email me questions instead of just second-guessing from blog posts is that Hikosaemon did not inspire Japologism, but instead spurred me to shut down Tepido.org, for reasons that I shall not bore your readers with.
The part of the article I did enjoy the most, however, was when the focus turned fully to the soft apologist (what is the difference between and "apologist", a "soft apologist" and a "neo-apologist" anyway?) Hikosaemon and his cute hat collection. There I learnt about a "sophisticat[ed] multi-faceted campaign" (another one of these informal affairs) where Hikosaemon in his cuddly headgear grooms innocent listeners and leads them astray into the evils of neo-apologiphilia. All of us in the secret cabal (which doesn’t exist, of course) had a good laugh at that theory.
Finally, to deal with a concluding remark:
Are foreign bureaus in Japan actually spooked, and has open debate been stifled? (A number of journalists approached for this article did not want to comment.)
One journalist, Pulitzer Prize-winning Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times, said on Twitter about the article "I smell something fishy about this piece." amongst other comments; if she was one of the journalists approached and, as she hints, she recognised the man behind the curtain, I am not surprised she did not want to comment.
The second was posted just yesterday in reply to this comment (in reply to G.Mainwaring) by the Community editor of the Japan Times:
Mr Yasumoto-Nicolson, for the sake of accuracy, please: "as a real writer put it recently in a tweet that was retracted very soon afterward, "the page that gives JT a bad name." "
I now notice that Ben Stubbings has edited his comment to start "Capt. Mainwaring,". As further evidence of how he appears to have bought into the sock-puppet troll theory, he said this on Twitter:
@eidoinoue Ah, I actually thought I was replying to the "Ken Y-N" guise, must’ve done it without thinking. Silly me
My reply was this (and appears to have been rejected by the censors):
You appear not to be respecting Captain Mainwaring’s desire for privacy, a rather unprofessional action for a journalist, I feel. However, given the recent rather fanciful articles in the Community that have featured me, I do not find your action in the least surprising.
Perhaps you should be more worried about your own accuracy and making your own retractions?