From September 4 to 7, 2023, the Institute for Global Governance Research (GGR) at Hitotsubashi University held a four-day intensive seminar titled “Countering Disinformation and Protecting Democracy.” The seminar aimed to provide participants, consisting of 14 selected undergraduate and graduate students from across Japan, with the opportunity to learn about the current state of disinformation, methods of analysis, and strategies for countering it. Participants were actively engaged in analyzing and addressing disinformation themselves.
During the intensive seminar, interactive lectures were delivered by leading experts from both domestic and international backgrounds. Professor Maiko Ichihara (Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University) provided an overview of the current state and structural factors of disinformation. Ms. Sascha Hannig (Doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University), explained how disinformation poses a danger to democratic nations. In a lecture by Mr. Chihhao Yu (Visiting Researcher, Hitotsubashi University; Co-director, Taiwan Information Environment Research Center (IORG)), methods for visualizing research results regarding disinformation were introduced. Mr. Daisuke Furuta (Editor-in-Chief, Japan Factcheck Center) delivered a lecture covering the fundamentals and of fact-checking as well as practical training. Lastly, a session by Mr. Ttcat (Co-founder and CEO, Doublethink Lab) introduced methods for forming counter-narratives, followed by practical experience sessions.
During the seminar, active participation was encouraged. In a session led by Mr. Furuta, groups selected disinformation or suspected content for fact-checking, receiving feedback after conducting the fact-checks. Additionally, Mr. Ttcat’s session provided training for participants to design their own counter-narratives.
Furthermore, the seminar included practical tasks where participants were divided into groups to analyze disinformation on assigned themes and formulate counter-narratives. The themes chosen were the Uygur issue, the Fukushima ALPS treated water issue, the Ukraine invasion issue, and the LGBT issue – all globally significant topics in recent years.
Each group analyzed the message and intentions of the disinformation, as well as the persona of the disinformation recipients, and devised effective counter-narratives. The Uygur group proposed a new counter-narrative campaign named UDARI. The Fukushima treated water group conducted persona analysis, considering international students from China as potentially vulnerable when exposed to disinformation spreaders. The Ukraine group constructed a counter-narrative strategy emphasizing the inhumanity of Russia while stimulating the emotions of the information recipients. Finally, the LGBT group formed a counter-narrative stimulating patriotism by suggesting that the promotion of LGBT rights in the United States contributes to that country’s international standing.
【Event report prepared by】
Juno Kim (Bachelor’s student, Faculty of Law)