SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2011
Japanese Government to Invite Foreigners Who Have Large Facebook and Twitter Followers to Tohoku So That They Can Tell Their Followers “Japan Is Safe”
From Mainichi Shinbun (9/19/2011):
Tweet “Japan is safe” to dispel “baseless rumor”: Japan to invite Twitterers from overseas
外務省は、東京電力福島第１原発事故による日本の農 産物や観光などへの風評被害対策として、フェイスブックやツイッターなどソーシャルメディアの発信者を海外から招く準備に入った。世界で５億人以上が利用 するとされるソーシャルメディアが、中東政変などで大きな影響力を見せていることに着目した試験事業。被災地を回った発信者に、安全性や感動を伝えてもら うことで、風評被害の緩和を狙う。
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have started to make preparations for inviting people from overseas who disseminate information via the social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as part of the countermeasures against “baseless rumors” that have damaged sales of Japanese agricultural products and tourism industry. More than 500 million people in the world are said to use the social media. The ministry has seen the great impact of the social media in the revolutions in the Middle East, and decided to use the social media to counter the “baseless rumor” by having people disseminate the messages of safety and favorable impressions.
In the second supplementary budget for the fiscal year 2011, the ministry obtained 1.5 billion yen for the countermeasures against “baseless rumors”. This plan to invite Facebook and Twitter users with large followers is part of the countermeasures.
Starting November, the ministry will invite the total of about 15 people over time from Europe, the United States, China and the Middle East who have large Facebook or Twitter followers. They will be selected by the Japanese embassies and consulates overseas, and they will be invited to Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.
There is no guarantee that these social media users will disseminate messages that are favorable to Japan. But the section in charge of the project at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hopeful that “They will send out messages after they actually visit the places and eat the local specialty food. We believe that the messages will be more credible, not the baseless rumor. The messages will be sent out fast, in great numbers, and widely”. In addition, the Ministry will invite foreign media – newspapers and TV stations – to the disaster affected areas, so that they can send out information on Japanese agricultural products and tourism to a wider audience.
Other countermeasures against “baseless rumors” include airing TV commercials outside Japan using celebrities telling the foreign viewers how safe the Japanese goods are, and fairs and food tasting events at the Japanese embassies and consulates overseas that feature the goods and produce from the disaster-affected areas.
So the Ministry correctly identified the social media like Facebook and Twitter that played a significant role in the Middle East uprisings. What they have chosen to ignore was that the social media was used by the protesters as a countermeasure to the government propaganda, not the other way around.
Using the same budget, the Ministry is hiring two people with collage or graduate degrees to tweet in English on behalf of the Ministry, and take care of these social media foreign visitors when they come. The message that they should tweet is about how charming Japan is and how well it has recovered from the earthquake/tsunami disaster. The position is temporary, lasting 6 months starting October 3, and you are to work 5 days a week excluding weekends and holidays for up to 29 hours per week. One hour lunch break. English proficiency is a must.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to do the government propaganda, contact:
I wonder who will appear in the commercials? Which celebrity will be purchased? Anyone that you would recommend?