JCP takes on NHK executives over political interference

At the March 15 House of Representatives General Committee meeting, the FY 2005 budget for NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) was approved with the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, while the Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties voted against.

Speaking against the budget plan on behalf of the JCP, Shiokawa Tetsuya pointed out that NHK has shown no remorse for allowing political interference in the contents of a TV program and that it has failed to investigate the allegations of cover-ups of diversion of funds. Stressing that NHK had to revise its revenue estimate because an increasing number of citizens are refusing to pay viewer fees to NHK, Shiokawa insisted that the budget plan is groundless.

At the committee meeting, an NHK representative made clear that the number of households that refused to pay viewer fees was 397,000 in January, 560,000 in February, and is expected to be 700,000 by the end of March. The number is larger than the initial estimate.

In 2001, NHK was pressured by senior LDP members to alter a TV program on Japan's wartime sex slavery system.

Shiokawa pointed out that NHK staff members met with senior LDP official Abe Shinzo before the program was aired, and criticized the NHK for stating that it is a normal part of work to meet with politicians to explain the contents of programs.

NHK President Hashimoto Genichi answered that although NHK staff cannot ask politicians for their opinions, this particular meeting was to give Abe an explanation.

Shiokawa stressed that NHK will not be able to restore viewers' trust if it does not admit its mistakes. (end)

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