Requests loom for NHK’s political coverage overseas, new minister Takaichi says


The government may make requests to NHK that affect its international services by promoting state views on political issues, Sanae Takaichi, new minister of internal affairs and communications, said.

“It is possible to make requests to transmit correct information on Japanese territories and other issues and to underscore the good points of Japan,” Takaichi said in an interview Friday.

The new minister was apparently referring to the sovereignty disputes over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China and Taiwan, and the South Korean-held islets of Dokdo, which Japan claims as Takeshima, in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul calls the East Sea.

In the next breath, however, Takaichi said the public broadcaster can make its own decisions on whether to meet such requests.

In 2006, then-communications minister Yoshihide Suga took the controversial step of ordering NHK to increase international radio coverage of the abduction issue, which concerns Japanese kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korean spies. Following the public outcry, Japan in 2007 revised the broadcast law and weakened the minister’s authority to make such requests to NHK less-binding.

Takaichi said her ministry will also discuss the possibility of supporting NHK so it can provide its international TV service in all six official languages used by the United Nations.

On the revitalization of regional economies and communities, Takaichi said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed her to devise a new system to support regions suffering from depopulation.

  • phu

    This is very sad. Abe hasn’t just stacked the political deck with people who agree with him, he’s shuffled in people who have absolutely no ethical qualms about hijacking publicly-funded broadcasting to push his administration’s agenda.

    Not that NHK is exactly a shining beacon of journalism, independence, and integrity, but this takes away even the chance for those things.

    • Abe hasn’t just stacked the political deck with people who agree with him

      What did you expect a prime minister in a parliamentary system to do? He’s not going to invite a member of the opposition to his cabinet, nor is he going to invite in any pols that oppose him on issues. All national leaders would do the same.

      • phu

        The point of my comment was the rest of it, i.e. the parts you didn’t quote.

        Yes, that’s exactly what I’d expect a person in his position to do (though not because it’s a good or right thing to do). The only reason “all national leaders would do the same,” which I agree with, is because they have no integrity with respect to serving their public in a meaningful sense instead of serving their own political interests, which I find very disagreeable.