Poster outside Takeshita Street McDonald’s alerts viewers to fake news on Japanese television.

Ever since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe first declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and a number of other prefectures on 7 April, the streets of the capital have been unusually quiet, with far less people gathering in usually busy areas.

One of the areas showing a marked decrease in visitors throughout the past month is Harajuku, particularly its narrow Takeshita Street thoroughfare, which is usually filled shoulder-to-shoulder with people on an ordinary day.

▼ Our photos of Takeshita Street, taken around midday on 3 April, before the state of emergency, show the place looking eerily quiet.

Now, roughly six weeks after the above photos were taken, the number of coronavirus cases in the capital have begun to drop, and people are becoming anxious over the prospect of Tokyo, and busy streets like Harajuku, going back to business as usual.

As a result, TV programmes are starting to latch onto public fears about the possibility of a second wave of infections, and Fuji TV’s daily variety show High Noon TV Viking! decided to illustrate their concerns on 19 May with footage that was reportedly taken on Sunday 17 May.

▼ At the bottom left of the screen it says “人混み” (“crowd of people“) and on the top right it says 17日竹下通り (Takeshita Street on the 17th)

Commenters on the programme discussed the problem of people in the city increasing and relaxation of the rules due to the drop in coronavirus cases while the footage of Takeshita Street was broadcast. After so many weeks of Takeshita Street looking like a deserted playground, viewers were surprised to see the thoroughfare bustling with people, many of them without masks, as if it were an ordinary day.

With Tokyo still under a state of emergency, people were appalled to see Takeshita Street so crowded, but eagle-eyed viewers spotted something in the image that revealed it wasn’t actually the people who were being irresponsible, but the TV show itself.

You see, on the left hand side of the screen there’s a poster outside McDonald’s advertising Teritama Burgers, with the “りたま” from “てりたま” (“teritama”) clearly visible. This limited-time burger was a seasonal special and was only available at McDonald’s in Japan until the end of March.

A number of people pointed out the McDonald’s poster on social media, slamming the TV programme for showing a crowded Takeshita Street scene that was said to be taken on 17 May when it clearly had to have been taken sometime in March.

Following the uproar on social media, the TV programme owned up to the error, with presenter Daijiro Enami broadcasting an apology on the show on 20 May, saying:

“Yesterday, the footage showing the state of Harajuku’s Takeshita Street and Omotesando in Tokyo on the 17th was actually from March. We apologise for the amendment.”

Despite the apology, people online were furious and quick to vent their anger on social media.

“This is a malicious and deliberate fabrication! Fire the person in charge!”
“They should admit this wasn’t an error, it was intentional.”

“Just because you apologise doesn’t mean you’re forgiven.”
“TV shows are quick to pursue scandals elsewhere but never their own.”
“This is how you incite panic over coronavirus.”

With the state of emergency now lifted in big cities like Kyoto and Osaka, and low case numbers in Tokyo indicating the capital could soon follow suit, now is definitely not the time to incite panic amongst the general public.

Here’s hoping the local media will learn from their mistakes and use correct footage for more accurate reporting in future. If the crowds aren’t actually in Harajuku, you can’t make them appear out of thin air, especially when the McDonald’s Teritama burger is there watching over you.

Source: Oricon via Otakomu
Photos © SoraNews24
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