The teleprompter used in the closing speech of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Japan-ASEAN Summit garnered more attention from the media than what was actually said. It was the first time the premier used one for a speech, and while the reason behind it was to “better capture his expression on camera”, it showed otherwise with a lot of media people criticizing the need for it.
Not used to such technology, unlike President Barack Obama who always employs the use of one in his speeches, the teleprompter seemed to make Abe struggle with his speech. He awkwardly had to adjust his body every time he would look to the camera and then to the teleprompter, which made him look as if he was staring at space instead of the camera. Major newspapers scorned the use of the teleprompter, with the Asahi Shimbun noting Prime Minister Abe’s eye-level was higher than the usual, and the Yomuri Shimbun writing the headline, “Did the Message Come Through?”
While it was Abe’s first time to actually use the teleprompter in a live speech, he did practice using it on two occasions this month, or at least that’s what his activity logs indicate. Using the teleprompter was just one of the ways his PR team has been trying to soften the hard and aloof image of the prime minister, which has been filled with inconsistencies. Social media was one channel that has been successful in bringing his message across to supporters, but was challenged earlier this year when a photo of him in a military jet labeled 731 – the same number as that of Japan’s wartime research lab that was famous for its human experiments on war prisoners, surfaced and got the ire of South Korean media for its supposed taunts.
Another newspaper, the Tokyo Shimbun, noted that past prime ministers who used a teleprompter, like Morihiro Hosokawa, Yoshiro Mori and Taro Aso, stepped down from office within six months from using it. No word has been given by the Prime Minister’s office yet if Abe will continue to use the technology.
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