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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 20 - 26  > Civil group demands NHK news programs become independent of government influence
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2019 March 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Civil group demands NHK news programs become independent of government influence

March 23, 2019

On March 22, the day commemorating the first radio broadcast in Japan, a citizens’ group submitted to the president of Japan’s broadcasting corporation NHK a written statement urging NHK to follow the principle of public service broadcasting that news reports on political issues should be free from fear of or favor to the government.

Prior to the submission, the civic group consisting of journalists and citizens concerned with media issues, held a rally near the NHK broadcasting center in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. Former NHK Governor and Kunitachi College of Music professor emeritus Kobayashi Midori and Nakatsukuma Takuzo, who heads an Article 9 Association group consisting of people in the media industry, delivered speeches and said that NHK should not uncritically accept what the Abe government says and that it should instead listen to the demands of viewers.

The statement points out that NHK news programs lack proper fact-checking procedures and critical viewpoints when it comes to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s misleading remarks, such as the one he made on the Okinawa base issue in which he claimed that the government safely transplanted coral reefs away from the construction site of a new U.S. base in Okinawa’s Henoko. The document also notes that NHK often neglects to cover stories that would most likely be damaging to the Cabinet approval rate. In addition, it claims that the public broadcaster indirectly takes the side of the government by using the same wording as the government on contentious topics like the South Korean top court’s ruling ordering a Japanese company to pay compensation to Korean victims of wartime forced labor, to which the Japanese government expressed its opposition by calling the ruling unreasonable. The statement points out that NHK is being criticized for its reluctance to report on PM Abe’s alleged involvement in the favoritism scandals concerning the Moritomo and Kake school cooperations.

The statement stressed that NHK, which is funded by license fees, should not be tied closely to the government and that the broadcaster needs to keep it minds its responsibility to uphold the basic journalistic principle that it should be critical of the government when deemed necessary.

The written statement was endorsed by 20 civic groups and 100 individuals, including 50 former NHK workers.

Past related articles:
> NHK under fire for its biased reports supportive of Abe gov't [January 10, 2019]
> NHK’s unreserved praise for PM Abe is abnormal [February 23, 2017]
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