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Welcoming OhmyNews Japan
Netizens in Japan take a new step forward
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-29 10:34 (KST)   
I want to welcome OhmyNews Japan which has just been launched in Japan. This is an important step in the effort to spread the Korean OhmyNews model to other countries, both by learning how to build on the lessons from the Korean model and how to change the model to respond to different local conditions.

While the Korean OhmyNews emphasized "'open-minded progress' in order to change the distorted environment in the conservative-dominated media" in South Korea, OhmyNews Japan will instead have a policy of "'political and ideological neutrality' in order to fit the socio-political environment in Japan," announced Oh Yeon-ho, the founder and CEO of OhmyNews. He also explained that citizen reporters in Japan will use their real names in their articles, just as citizen reporters in Korea are required to do; however, pen names will be "allowed for some exceptional circumstances."

An article describing the launch of OhmyNews Japan reported that "bloggers and netizens in Japan are actively discussing directions and approaches OhmyNews should take."(1)

It is good to see that bloggers and netizens in Japan have the opportunity to contribute to OhmyNews Japan and to help it to develop and spread.

This is a welcome sign, as it is a reminder of how Japanese researchers and Japanese society welcomed the concept of "netizen" in the mid 1990s and helped it to spread in Japan.

In 1995, Professor Shumpei Kumon, the director of the GLOCOM Institute (Global Communications Institution) in Japan, learned of research by a young reseacher and invited the researcher, Michael Hauben, to Japan to share his research.

In 1996, Hauben wrote a description of the role played by Professor Kumon in helping to spread the concept of netizen in Japan, Hauben writes:

"A little under one year ago, I received a letter sent through the Internet, via electronic mail. The letter was sent by a professor from Japan, and concerned studies we were both interested in....The specific concern was about the emergence of Netizens, or people who use computer networks who consider themselves to be part of a global identity. The Netizen is part of a developing global cooperative community."

Hauben shared the email from Professor Kumon he had received a year before in 1995 which said in part:

"I am a social scientist in Japan writing on information revolution and information-oriented civilization. Since I came across the term "netizen" about a year ago. I have been fascinated by this idea. It seems that the age of not only technological-industrial but also political-social revolution is coming, comparable to the "citizen's revolution" in the past. I would very much like to do a book on that theme." (Email from Professor Kumon)(2)

Professor Kumon appreciated Hauben's role in developing and spreading the concept of netizen as a new form of online citizenship, a new form of social identity and consciousness.(3) Professor Kumon invited Hauben to Japan to be one of the guest speakers at the Hypernetwork '95 Beppu Bay Conference on the "Netizen Revolution."

A little while later, Professor Kumon published a book in Japanese titled, "The Age of Netizens." It included a chapter by Hauben "The Birth of the Netizens."(4)

Also when Hauben's book "Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet" was published in a print edition in the U.S., a Japanese translation soon followed.(5)

One of the netizens that Hauben met when he was in Japan was Hiroyuki Takahashi, at the time a college student. Takahashi suggested that there be a netizen association formed to help to spread the Internet and to encourage people to learn how to become part of the online world.

Though the netizen association wasn't able to form at the time, the beginning of OhmyNews Japan to develop citizen journalism in Japan and the OhmyNews model is a hopeful sign. It is a means to continue efforts to spread the Internet and to encourage people to use the Net in ways that will be helpful for their lives and for society.

Related Articles
OhmyNews Japan Debuts
' OhmyNews Has Unlimited Potential '

(1) ""OhmyNews Japan Debuts: New site launches with 1,000 citizen reporters"

(2) http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/text/netizen-a-call.html

(3) http://www.columbia.edu/~rh120/ch106.xpr

(4) http://groups.google.com/group/fj.misc/msg/65a9f2d1109d64b6?dmode=source

(5) The Japanese edition was published in 1997 by Chuokoron-Sha, Inc.
The url for the online English edition is: http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/netbook/
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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