A few weeks ago, I mentioned in these pages that the Muslims living in Japan do not have any major problems while engaging in their religious or business activities in the country, the fact largely remains the same despite the recent killings of two innocent Japanese by ISIS in Syria.
There is no doubt that, on various occasions in the past, the Japanese media has shown the negative images of Islam and the Muslims, it has largely avoided the type of highly sensational stories the Western media publishes about Islam and Muslims now and then.
On the other hand, the Japanese media has published countless number of articles and media stories about Halal economy during the past few years which is booming in all parts of the country. The media now gives a sizable coverage to the activities of halal friendly hotels, restaurants and other halal businesses operating in the country.
The Japanese media also seems to be quite generous for covering the special relationships Japan enjoys with many of the Muslim countries.
The great earthquake in 2011 saw many Muslims rushing to the affected areas to help the needy. They worked tirelessly to help the massive relief work started by the Japanese government. This, fortunately, helped Muslims get better image in the local media.
Many newspapers and other news outlets including NHK, Fuji Television and other TV channels regularly visit various mosques to introduce Muslim culture to the wider Japanese audience.
The news and electronic media have displayed a fascination with the word “Halal” and thus given an extensive coverage to the local halal economy and its implications for the export of halal products to the Muslim countries globally.
However, the Japanese media, in general, has not yet paid attention to the concept of `Islam As a Religion` in wider sense due to which ordinary Japanese are still afraid of the religion.
The result has been a public image of Muslims and Islam – better yet a stereotype – in which terrorism figure prominently. This mass media preaching has a particularly powerful educational impact on people who have little or no direct contact with Muslims.
Generally speaking, the overall scenario is encouraging. However, the Muslims need to improve their relationship with the Japanese media as well as the Japanese society so that they can improve their in the society.