TokyoProgressive supports and participates in projects of like-minded people and groups directly (technical, editing, design) and not-so directly (financial or moral support). Likewise, we also welcome contributions by readers that are consistent with promoting social justice. If you have a project you would like help with, or if you would like to submit an article, link, or report on a protest activity, please contact us here.

TokyoProgressive has been in existence in various incarnations since 1997. Originally conceived as a tool to help Japanese students of English and alternative media develop critical literacy skills, it has developed into a resource for promoting a democratic media. This is a sometimes ambiguous term that includes liberating information withheld or distorted by the corporate media. It also means understanding that all media, including TokyoProgressive, is biased and that objectivity is a myth.

The corporate media is close to power in most countries, and so their biases, while usually not disclosed openly, are  easily imagined. What is not often understood is the degree to which bias affects what stories are carried and how much weight is given to viewpoints which serve to support those biases. Sadly, this is so even in much of the alternative media.  Increasingly, TokyoProgressive has come to support a model proposed by The New Standard  which says that while  “no journalist or an editor can ever be truly neutral, impartial or unbiased…it is important to be explicit about the values and perspective driving [one’s] coverage”. The New Standard has established certain principles about news writing/reporting, which include some worthy values not found in the corporate media or alternative media with any regularity.  These include “holding government and corporate power accountable to the public [by providing] news and information that our readers need in order to be able to affect their world; and promoting understanding of complex public interest issues”. To that end, they employ rigorous fact checking wherever possible, and so it is with confidence that we carry their stories on our site.  Unfortunately, they do not have the resources to cover every story that needs telling, particularly those concerning Japan and Asia.  It is here where TokyoProgressive needs to look further afield.

As a web site based in Japan we are aware that, when compared to the situation in many countries, Japan is woefully deficient in alternatives to corporate media.  (Note that we include so-called public media like NHK in our definition of “corporate media” given their bias, which is firmly in the government-corporate camp despite the occasional good story or social issues piece.) There are some alternative sources of information, but even so, they tend to be tied to political parties or single issues groups, and–like much of the alternative media outside Japan–their stories are not often as rigorously checked as they should be.  Media such as these, including  IndyMedia Japan (which TokyoProgressive helped to establish), are best at promoting social change by giving a voice to the wide variety of viewpoints that challenge the mainstream stranglehold on news and information serving to maintain the status quo.  They do not, however, focus on presenting hard news, and unlike The New Standard, we do not have the resources to present that kind of coverage ourselves. Therefore we are compelled to search far and wide for stories and analyses.
Because there are so few alternatives to “official” media, it is all the more important that we highlight those stories found in non mainstream sources that we feel are being missed and which therefore contribute to maintaining an alienated public that feels it has no control over events affecting it.  Unlike The New Standard, we do not write most of the stories ourselves,  
but like them, we believe that despite our own activism, news coverage should be presented in a non-ideological format because, as The New Standard says,  “ideology can often obscure fairness and accuracy” and we should always be skeptical when any story appears  “sympathetic to particular sources or positions.”Due to the dearth of such reporting, some of the stories we publish or link to may not always be as well reseached as we would like.  Therefore, we generally provide multiple links to stories along with a brief commentary on the relevance of a particular story to larger issues, including implications of a non Japanese story to readers in Japan as well as of a Japanese story for readers outside Japan.  Readers are also invited to make comments and send in their own stories and analyses.

Finally, there is another reason for this approach, which should be of concern to anyone involved in alternative media, and that is that we want the news and commentary to be accessible to those readers who are turned off by the tone and rhetoric of most alternative media.  This flows out of the same philosophy we embrace in education, that people should be encouraged to reach their own conclusions, not have those conclusions drawn for them.  Good education liberates, and so does good media.  That is why, though we may have no choice but to reference a story that contradicts our own philosophy by being too overbearing or speculative, we intend to encourage skeptism and further inquiry in our accompanying commentary.