Lick This!

My suggested title: "The Japanese Eyeball Licking 'Craze' that Never Happened"

This is a natural result of the inordinate focus on "weird Japan" stories. That focus is understandable to a certain extent. As Dave Barry astutely pointed out in his book, Japan is "an extremely foreign country" and even long-term foreign residents who speak Japanese well run into things that puzzle them.

The foreign press usually have no one who is competent in Japanese to do any fact-checking, even if they have the intention to do so. This was a problem during the Tohoku earthquake. I saw reports on CNN and BBC news that the Japanese government wasn't communicating information or was being vague about the situation in Fukushima. If you watched the news here and understood Japanese, you would have thought that there was actually a surprising amount of transparency compared to typical reporting. By normal standards, the Japanese government was positively voluble.

I was surprised that major news agencies didn't seem to have staff who were capable of doing the basic low-level work of translating the reporting that was updated literally hourly — or more often — on broadcast news. So, of course, doing any kind of critical reporting like following up on sources would be far beyond them. If they can't get it right when the stakes are that high, it's not shocking in the least that yet another report on supposed Japanese "crazes" or "fetishes" got uncritical acceptance and widespread publicity.