Newspaper Reports on BSE around the Time of the Japan-US Trade Conflicts: Content Analysis of Japanese and US Dailies from 2002 to 2006


Mass media can affect how people understand and react to particular health risks. Reporting of health risks during the international trade disputes, resulting from the difference in safety regulations, therefore can play a pivotal role in resolving them. This study compared the newspaper reports on BSE-related events in major national dailies between Japan and the US around the period when BSE-infected cattle were discovered in the US and the import of US beef products was banned (between December 2002 and November 2006). During the study period, the number of BSE-related newspaper articles increased in both the US and Japan, but the visibility of the issue was more prominent and persistent in Japan than in the US. Geographically, most of the articles had a domestic focus, but they also reported the news of each trade partner. After the discovery of BSE cattle in the US, articles of commerce and trade issues were dominant in Japan, while the incidence of BSE, agriculture, and trade dominated in the US. Overall, the US-based newspapers carried more advocacy articles than the Japanese ones. In Japan, calls for stronger domestic policy decreased, but those for stronger foreign policy increased slightly. Meanwhile, in the US, calls for a stronger domestic policy increased slightly whereas those for weaker foreign policy dropped-both only temporarily. The major rationale for policy advocacy was the economy and health in both Japan and the US. However, the balance of competing policy objectives and the rational acceptance of BSE risks were argued more in the US papers than in the Japanese ones. In conclusion, during the BSE-related dispute on health and trade, the visibility and faces of the issues in newspapers differed between Japan and the US. Acceptance of BSE-related risks was argued differently, and those differences reflected and affected the public's perception of BSE issues, the related safety policies by the governments, and the configuration of social interests in each country. The differences evident in the media could serve as a vehicle for reappraising the existing policies as well as the possible international harmonization of risk management policies.

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Sato, H. and Campbell, R. (2014) Newspaper Reports on BSE around the Time of the Japan-US Trade Conflicts: Content Analysis of Japanese and US Dailies from 2002 to 2006. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 2, 20-34. doi: 10.4236/ajc.2014.21003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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