From February 15 to 18, 2023, the Institute for Global Governance Research (GGR) at Hitotsubashi University held a four-day intensive seminar titled “Countering Disinformation and Protecting Democracy.” Seminar participants learned about the current state of disinformation, methods of analysis, and countermeasures.
During the first three days, leading experts from Japan and abroad gave lectures. Prof. Maiko Ichihara (Professor, Hitotsubashi University) summarized the issues related to disinformation and created a common understanding among the participants. Dr. Arild Bergh (Visiting Researcher, Hitotsubashi University) explained how disinformation spreads and how to resist and recover from it through the concept of resilience. Ms. Poyu Tseng (Deputy CEO, Doublethink Lab) and Mr. Patrick Poon (Visiting Researcher, Meiji University) outlined the current state of disinformation in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Ms. Poyu’s lecture discussed effective counter-narratives against disinformation. Finally, Mr. Chihhao Yu, co-chair of the Information Operation Research Group (IORG), introduced the activities of the IORG and explained how to attractively design information.
Participants were encouraged to participate actively in the lectures. In Dr. Berg’s lecture, participants pretended to be senders of disinformation and tried to counter it. In a lecture by Mr. Daisuke Furuta (Japan Factcheck Center), participants practiced fact-checking. Many participants valued the active lecture format.
In addition, this seminar provided a practical task called Social Action Project (SAP). Participants were divided into four groups and, over the four days of the seminar, discussed the assigned themes: military base and elections in Okinawa, Taiwan contingency, Japan-ROK relations, and vaccines.
Each group identified specific disinformation, narrowed down the recipients, and devised effective counter-narratives. The Taiwan contingency group devised a way to deliver different content at different times of the day. The Japan-ROK relations group devised a strategy to penetrate the inner circle of disinformation senders. The presentations given on the final day were ingenious. The Okinawa group created a counter-narrative using video, and the Vaccine group presented with humor.
A total of 16 undergraduate and graduate students from Japan participated. Some participants appreciated the rich discussions brought about by the diversity of participants’ majors and initial interests. Many participants also reflected that they had a deepened understanding of and increased interest in disinformation. Other participants expressed their desire to apply the results of this seminar to their future careers.
【Event Report prepared by】
NAKAJIMA Takahiro (Bachelor’s Student, Faculty of Law)