The Tokyo District Court sentenced a former chief producer at NHK to five years in prison Tuesday for defrauding the public broadcaster out of 62 million yen between 1998 and 2001.

The defendant, Katsumi Isono, 49, does not intend to appeal, according to his lawyer.

Presiding Judge Hitoshi Murase said Isono took the leading role in the fraud, noting the crime “severely damaged trust in NHK, which is financed by viewer subscription fees, and the effect of this on society cannot be overlooked.”

During the trial, Isono basically owned up to the charges but claimed it was an “NHK custom” to secure funds for expenses that would not be officially allowed. He blamed NHK for overlooking the practice.

The judge, however, said there was no room for leniency because the crime was intended “mainly to make money (for the defendant) to spend on his own affairs.”

Isono bilked NHK out out of about 62 million yen in commissions by having four people pose as scriptwriters for programs, including NHK’s well-known New Year’s Eve music show “Kohaku Utagassen,” the court said.

The four, including a 53-year-old former program planning company executive, were all convicted of involvement in the fraud.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.