Reporter Christopher Johnson’s twitter feed making certain mid-level employees at Panasonic and Google in Japan a little nervous.

I wrote a bit about reporter Johnson last year, after he had gained some exposure as being a person detained from re-entry in Japan early last year due to some visa snafu. As it turned out, Japan and Mr. Johnson worked the situation out a couple months later, but not until after there was some not-well-defined internet brouhaha between Johnson and a couple of previous coworkers, where it’s not clear why the coworkers/associates were hounding Mr. Johnson in the shadows on the internet.

As it goes with the unregulated internet, these January 2012 troubles were picked up by another website, the previously blogged Japan Probe, which dedicates part of its efforts to badmouthing the content of articles written by major newspaper organizations—specifically identifying reporters, like Hiroko Tabuchi and Martin Fackler of the New York Times, or Kyung Lah of CNN.

The level of disagreement expressed on Japan Probe would go beyond the mere disagreement with what was reported, into insinuations of whether the reporters were capable of reporting. In one case, details about a divorce were included at one point (although that posting may no longer be part of the current display).

Japan Probe has also printed material criticizing academic and human-rights activist Arudou Debito, whom I know casually, and, in the past couple years, has tended to focus on some of the content coming from Mr. Arudou’s blog. It’s a fairly well-trafficked blog in the Japan-side expat community, maybe receiving 800 unique hits a day when it was publishing daily.

Chris Johnson’s story, having appeared on Debito.org in early 2012, was then more prominently (and negatively) featured on Japan Probe throughout early 2012, with defamatory content against reporter Johnson.

Here is what I don’t quite get though: I suspect most everyday people understand that when you defame a reporter anonymously over the internet, you will make your website a topic of either that reporter’s attention; or, if the reporter is part of a bigger news outlet, you will flag the site in the notes of some social-media monitor working for the media group.

So if I read the Johnson twitter feed right (the ones being posted), Mr. Johnson has concluded, probably by strong circumstantial evidence, that Ken Yasumoto-Nicholson of Panasonic and Eido Inoue of Google Japan are by some measure involved in the defamatory content on Japan Probe. Additionally, that they use “Japologism.org”, a successor site to the Debito-criticizing, defunct “Tepido.org“, to carry forward negative criticism about targets on Japan Probe.

Now, good reader, this all goes into the bin of “Japan does not regulate what foreigners in Japan do to other foreigners connected to Japan”, (either as fellow residents there or former residents). What I’m saying there is that internet behavior that no honestly Japanese person would ever dream of doing (because of the ramifications), is engaged in without so much as a second thought by certain expats who, for one reason or another, call Japan home.

That two middle-aged, midlevel key employees (of some-reported importance) within their respective companies, do this routinely, is something that would make you sit back in your chair and really read that laptop again.

When I initially wrote about antics in the Japan-side expat blogosphere, I concluded that these individuals were content to sit behind the scenes and goad others (twenty-something JET teachers, for example) into this sort of behavior. Setting the table for the party, so to speak.

Now, the suggestion in what Mr. Johnson is reporting is that these men actually spend their working day involved in the activity. Employed by major Japanese companies or Japanese units of American ones, where in both cases, the American market is so critical to the profitability of the firm. Employed during the day, and employing sock puppets to wile the day away.

When this latest piece hits, it will be interesting to see what research has been done. I have my own tick-file of items that have appeared on Mr. Yasumoto-Nicholson’s site, and it will be something to match the sock puppets to the alleged cowards behind the anonymous words.

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