As a newspaper person, I think the following comment by Earl Warren (1891-1974), a U.S. politician and former chief justice of the Supreme Court, hits the mark: “I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people’s accomplishments; the front page nothing but man’s failures.”
The same can be said of The Asahi Shimbun’s July 24 edition. A story about investigations into the March 11, 2011, disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant occupied much of the front page. When I turned to the sports section, I found a small article reporting a spectacular “accomplishment.” For the first time in 42 years, Japan won the women’s softball world championship. I must admit that I didn’t even know it was being held in Canada.
Although The Asahi Shimbun did not run it, I liked the following comment on Japan’s victory by manager Taeko Utsugi that appeared in other newspapers distributed by Kyodo News: “I wish to inform the Japanese people that softball is alive and well.” The words seem to be directed at the media’s fickleness.
Four years ago, the gold medal in women’s softball made the front page. In a corner of the same page was a small story under the headline “Nadeshiko misses bronze.” Women’s soccer, which was a modest bud, has bloomed into a spectacular flower. Nadeshiko Japan will be playing its first game in the London Olympics on July 25 local time, before the Opening Ceremony.
The Olympics are, after all, a special event. We want to devote as much space as possible to covering not only accomplishments and joy but also tears and regret. While praising the accomplishment of Japan’s dauntless women’s softball team, I cannot help but feel increasingly nervous and excited when I think about the Games that start this weekend.
--The Asahi Shimbun, July 25
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.