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THE JOURNALIST (2022, JPN) – 7/10

Apparently even good, honest and hard-working Japanese people are not immune to corruption, crime and clientelism, and this six-part Netflix series tells the story of a journalist who investigates a major corruption scandal of the ruling clique. It sounds very familiar to all of us who live in this area, and the combination of power + corruption has already become something we just wave our hands at because that is the state of things and it happens all the time. Land is being grabbed, agricultural land overnight becomes construction land, anyone can do what they want, and the ruling clique in Japan resorted to similar work. The state land was sold below the price, and it seems that the prime minister himself and his wife are involved in the scandal. There is another equally explosive scandal – other politicians are being investigated for subsidy fraud (it just sounds familiar!), and the first to sniff out both scandals is the uncompromising and incorruptible journalist Anna Matsuda (Ryoko Yonekura).

In the opening scenes, Anna at the press barrages the government officials with questions, they sweat, but nothing concrete happens. We can see why – the government hired a whole squad of analysts and computer scientists whose task is to hide and cover up, destroy evidence and spread fake news on social networks. Armies of internet trolls are engaged, they spin, lie, cover up, everything that is how today’s politics and propaganda work. However, even in that system there are obviously moral and honest people who have a hard time coping with the knowledge that they have to lie and cover up crime, and the whole situation will completely explode when one official commits suicide.

Thematically, “The Journalist” was somehow on the trail of great journalistic films like “All the President’s Men”, but from today’s perspective it even seems a bit banal because the world has changed a lot since the time when the good Bernstein and Woodward dug up Watergate. Following in the footsteps of Hoffman and Redford from the legendary film is this Japanese journalist who will turn out to have an additional motive for wanting to expose the rotten, corrupt government. And regardless of the fact that all this seems a bit childish and naive from today’s perspective, this story worked more than well until it started to be pathetic about how people should wake up and start and be patriotic in a way that they try to understand in what way corruption it works and they are fighting it.

It got on my nerves a little because that game was lost a long time ago and I’m afraid that there’s not much luck anymore and that the days when guys like Woodward or Bernstein could change the world are gone. Today they would probably be called spreaders of fake news, Soros mercenaries, haters of everything American, and shaming campaigns would be launched against them from the centers of power and they would be tried to show that they are doing all this for some of their own interests or for someone else. All this will be experienced by the journalist from this mini-series, who will find herself under attack from the ruling clique, and it is even shown in good quality what it can look like when someone is in the crosshairs of power.