This article is from the American misconceptions about Japan FAQ, by Tanaka Tomoyuki firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
I would characterize US media coverage of Japan as
"generally negative and sometimes malicious".
over the years, I have collected many TIME and Newsweek articles
on Japan. most of them fall under the following categories.
--- clearly negative: treats Japan as sneaky, unfair,
--- a "human interest" story with easily-detectable negative
intentions: depicting Japanese as sexist, exotic,
strange, stupid, inscrutable, etc.
--- articles that are completely factual about the value of the
Yen, etc. coupled with the negative treatment of Japan,
these articles contribute to the image of the "faceless,
nameless, ominous threat".
even when the US media says positive things about Japan
--- about its wealth, social order, hardworking people, etc. ---
the hidden message is often, "beware of this ominous threat."
Ezra Vogel's book "Japan as Number One" is a good example of
this. please see the April 3, 1981 issue of "The New York
Review of Books". there is a short article about the book by
Vogel ("To the Editors:", Page 45). in the same issue, Tetsuo
Najita, a Japanese-American professor at Univ of Chicago,
expresses strong displeasure at the "racial reference" that
Vogel made by referring to Najita as "American Nisei".
except for the few recent articles on Sugihara (see Section
(3.1)), I have NEVER seen an US coverage of Japan that is
positive (newspaper, magazine, TV, ...).
(please let me know by e-mail if you find any.)
Positive images of Japan in the USA
Some people pointed out these positive images of Japan and
--- safe society (no guns)
--- low unemployment, few homeless people
--- no graffiti or vandalism
--- corporate management based on harmony rather than confrontation
--- good education system (esp. math and science; elementary and
--- hardworking, industrious (in a good sense)
--- long life expectancy (healthy people; healthy diet)
--- honest people
actually some of these I take issue with (like "corporate
management based on harmony"), but this is not the place for that.