Correction: Government only sort of asking people to use their real names on the Internet

Japan Media Review follows up on earlier Kyodo reports that the Japanese government was trying to end anonymity on the Internet by teaching them to use their real names on blogs from a young age, information that I passed along earlier.

Turns out the government has a slightly more nuanced take on the situation:

Later Monday, however, an anonymous blogger who calls his Weblog a “Diary of a Kasumigaseki Bureaucrat” (Kasumigaseki is the Tokyo district where most government offices are located) took the trouble of leafing through the panel’s draft report that had been published online earlier in the month and discovered that many of the Kyodo report’s descriptions didn’t match what the panel actually said in its report.

For instance, the blogger noticed that nowhere in the report did the panel actually advocate calling on people to use their real names in cyberspace, or to drop using screen handles. Rather, it outlined a more subtle argument. It noted that the prevalence of anonymity in Japan has led to an atmosphere in which many feel that it doesn’t matter what they do or say in cyberspace so long as they are not caught. To that end, raising the credibility of the Internet in Japan will require an improvement of general public “morals” online. Consequently, the report said, “It is necessary to teach [children] how to interact naturally with each other in cyberspace, using either their real names or some kind of assumed name.” Thus, he noted, the Ministry accepts anonymity, so long as it is practiced with good “morals.”

Moreover, business journalist Hiroyuki Fujishiro, writing his own column about the blogging world for Nikkei BP, checked the 86-page final draft of the panel’s report that appeared Tuesday. He noted that much of the rather inflammatory writing in the original Kyodo article, in which the Internet is called a “hotbed of evil” or “hotbed of dangerous information” and where anonymity is linked somehow to online suicide sites or to online information about bomb-making, does not appear in the report. He did find, however, that the panel displayed considerable concern about the “dark side” of the Internet, one feature of which was the irresponsible behavior that stems from anonymity.

I highly suggest that you check out Japan Media Review if they’re at all interested in Japanese and wants to read news about Japan or in Japanese. Their analysis is great and they offer a good set of links as well. Especially now that I don’t have the time to exhaustively check Japan news myself, I may end up depending on their coverage to keep up with media happenings. Thank god they’re funded by the US government.

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2 thoughts on “Correction: Government only sort of asking people to use their real names on the Internet”

  1. Anonymity on the web is neccessary in many cases. In others, again people indeed use it say things and state opinions they would never do in public. Since there’s no middle way in this question and free speech is an important value, appeals against misuse and basic education is the best method imho.

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