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Draft Tokyo Declaration on Collaborative Action for Media Literacy
Shin Mizukoshi/ MELL Project Symposium 2006/ 2006.3.5

MELL Project Symposium 2006
Draft Tokyo Declaration on Collaborative Action for Media Literacy in East Asia (Tokyo Declaration)

Shin Mizukoshi

Introduction

The following short document is a draft declaration on media literacy in East Asia presented as part of MELL Project Symposium 2006 (“Seeding of MELL”), held at the Faculty of Law & Letters Bldg. 2 on the University of Tokyo Hongo Campus Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5, 2006. The event was attended by approximately 250 persons

The Media Expression, Learning and Literacy Project (MELL Project) is a practical research group addressing media literacy and expressive skills for citizens. With activities based at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies in the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, the Project’s diverse membership of some 80 individuals drawn from across Japan includes researchers, graduate students, members of the broadcast media, schoolteachers, and representatives of non-profit organizations and citizens’ groups. Like a loose-knit guild, this networked organization undertakes activities loosely connected not just to media literacy, but to activities from play approaching the state of media art to practical activities intended to nurture media expression by the citizenry. These activities involve a broad range of media, from mass media, including broadcasting, newspapers, and books, to the Internet and mobile phones.
Yuhei Yamauchi and Shin Mizukoshi played central roles in launching the MELL Project in 2000, when the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies was established. The Project was officially launched with its first symposium in January 2001. As initially planned, these symposiums concluded in 2006, after five years. Naturally, not all of these experiments will end. A broad range of activities originating with the MELL Project are currently being deployed across Japan, East Asia, and North Europe. Plans also call for the launching of new social-cooperation projects and organizations in the near future at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies as successors to the ideas and methodologies of the MELL Project.
Over the five years of MELL Project activities, Yamauchi, Mizukoshi, and other members of the Project came into contact with a broad range of media-literacy activities currently underway, as well as with researchers, businesspersons, and others implementing such activities around the world, particularly in the East Asian countries of South Korea and Taiwan. These experiences have shown that the new media ecosystem at the start of the 21st century requires a reconsideration of traditional media literacy concepts originating in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. We must critically examine these concepts in the context of East Asian cultures and societies and collectively seek out new ideas, frameworks for recognition, and methodologies for media literacy.
It is thought that this cross-border cooperation in turn will lead to more effective development of media literacy in Japan. In recent years in particular, a tendency toward conservatism has become apparent in the statements and practice of media covering Japanese society, amid factors such as reactions to globalization, a prolonged economic downturn, and a trend toward growing income inequality, as well as the chaos of digital media. This tendency poses the risk that media literacy may be trivialized into mere protectionism.
While sounding the alarm on such conservative and protectionist tendencies, on the stage of the MELL Project’s finale, we proposed a perspective intended to lead to a new ideal for media literacy in East Asia.

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