|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Japanese have traditionally shunned confrontation. They're known throughout the world for obedience and conformity. Of course, this has basically allowed the few to dominate the many, but, thanks to Channel Two, things have been changing a bit over the past few years.
Channel Two, or Ni Chaneru as it's known in Japanese, is the world's largest online bulletin board, according to Flash (12/24). Almost since its inception in May 1999, Ni Chaneru and the countless number of threads that stream from it, have managed to change thousands of Japanese from docile and demure to fierce defenders of justice acting as watchdogs for society or simply crusaders of craziness.
"I set it up as a way to pass the time when I was studying in the United States to be a programmer," Ni Chaneru's founder and moderator Hiroyuki Nishimura tells Flash. "I felt a bit attracted to it, but was totally prepared to end it if it became a pain."
Nishimura admits that the success of Ni Chaneru can be attributed to "being in the right place at the right time," but its record of grass roots accomplishments has been astounding in a country where corrupt, oneparty rule has been the norm for all but a few months for most of the past half century.
Some achievements inspired by campaigns among Ni Chaneru's minions have been:
- Forcing Toshiba Corp. to apologize in July 1999 after a man used the bulletin board to reveal that his complaints about a faulty VCR were greeted with obscenities from the electronics giant's service staff;
- Eliciting a shame-filled explanation from the boss of music powerhouse Avex after superstar diva Ayumi Hamasaki complained that a group of disabled people given front row, center seats to one of her concerts were "sickening."
- Inspiring hundreds of people to get out and clean up notoriously dirty Shonan beach just hours before the Fuji TV planned an identical campaign to protest the network's shoddy coverage of World Cup soccer games. Network executives arrived at the beach expecting to film hundreds of people picking up trash on the seashore, but were instead greeted by a pristine beach and raspberries from the hundreds of Ni Chaneru fans who had cleaned it.
- Encouraging busloads of schoolchildren to pay their respects at Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead are enshrined, on the anniversary of the end of World War II. War-talk among the young is not widely encouraged in Japan.
- Prompting a 1,000 Burger Eat Off when McDonalds started selling hamburgers for 59 yen apiece. About 40 Ni Chaneru users turned up at a Tokyo outlet of the giant food chain and proceeded to chomp their way through some 400 burgers in a few hours. True to form for Ni Chaneru users, Flash says, participants celebrated the occasion by taking a snapshot -- with everybody facing away from the camera!
January 4, 2003