Strategic Management and Communications of Health Risks: International Comparative Study

Research Project , Research Report 2006

Hajime SATO Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine,The University of Tokyo


The study aims to examine the successes and failures of asbestos regulation and those of the BSE-related policies from an international comparative perspective, and to distill policy lessons for the strategic management of future and present health risks. Special focus is placed on the analysis of scientific arguments in policy discussion as well as in risk communications, since they can be instrumentally employed to justify certain policy alternatives to accomplish a set of objectives, such as safety, reassurance, and the protection of economic interests.
This report presents part of the results from the study: Comparison of mass media reports on the BSE issue between the US and Japan. Content analysis of the BSE-related articles in the two national dailies, i.e., the New York Times (NYT) and Asahi Shimbun (Asahi), disclosed that majority of Japanese newspaper articles reported just the facts and events, not accompanying evaluative comments, while those in NYT discussed the rationale and implications of policies. Remarkable was the fact that many NYT articles argued for the relativity and acceptable level of risk, while there was none in Asahi except one. It was suggested that the Japanese newspapers played quite a limited role in facilitating public understanding of the risk, and possible policy choices.