China’s efforts to shape political debates and thinking in other countries are multiplying rapidly. Efforts to build what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) calls “discourse power” have spurred media influence operations across the Asia-Pacific region. Through these campaigns, the CCP aims to cultivate pro-China sentiment and manipulate domestic political landscapes to its advantage. From China’s National Radio and Television Administration deepening ties with government-run media outlets in the Philippines to CCP affiliates buying up Chinese-language media in Australia, such influence operations are expanding in both scope and sophistication. Yet one critical Asian country seems to have skated by unscathed thus far: Japan.
However, given Japan’s crucial geostrategic position in Asia, the seemingly low level of Chinese influence on Japanese media and public discourse is intriguing. Is it in fact the case that China’s influence has been limited in Japan? Or is it rather that the question has not, until now, been adequately studied?