The 55th ANC National Conference has sparked intrigue globally. Approximately 900 journalists from various national and international media houses are attending the conference.
Melissa Chalila, South African Correspondent for Kyodo News based in Japan, said the Japanese public had fostered a keen interest in South African politics and issues. Mainly due to the iconic figure of Nelson Mandela.
Chalila said, “Japan has always been interested in this conference. I’ve been to the 2007 conference in Polokwane and the conference in the Free State … So, since 2007, we’ve always been there.”
Political Interest Across Asia
Kyodo News is an independent wholesale news agency providing news and information to prominent newspapers and broadcasters in Japan.
They specifically broadcast to a Japanese audience, but their reach also ranges to broader Asia.
This means China, South Africa’s partner in BRICS, has its eyes set on the events, voting and outcomes of the conference. However, Japan has reasons to observe the political climate in South Africa.
Chalila said, “In this case, China has basically taken over Japan. So Japan would also like to tighten up its relationships with South Africa. So, we’re always watching what’s happening.”
Currently, Kyodo News is the only Japanese news media at the conference. As such, they are the primary source of media filtering information to various platforms in Asia.
Challenges as Foreign Media
Chalila said international media has faced some challenges due to the differing time zones, with Japan being a few hours ahead.
As foreign media, they have also experienced difficulties in trying to gather information from ANC officials.
“In Japan, we are eight hours ahead, so we’re trying to get [information] to file a story for the morning news.”