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Gifu man, 71, sues NHK for distress over its excess use of foreign words

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A Gifu Prefecture man is suing NHK for mental distress allegedly caused by the broadcaster’s excessive use of foreign words.

Hoji Takahashi, 71, filed the complaint Tuesday with the Nagoya District Court and is seeking ¥1.41 million in damages.

Takahashi, an NHK subscriber, said the broadcaster has recently been loading its TV programs, whether news or entertainment, with loan words, such as “risuku” (risk), “toraburu” (trouble), and “shisutemu” (system). He also noted their use in NHK’s program titles, such as “BS Konsheruju” (“BS Concierge”).

Although many words like these have been adopted into Japanese, Takahashi said in his complaint that the deluge is causing him great emotional stress and accused NHK of irresponsibility by refusing to use native Japanese equivalents.

“With Japanese society increasingly Americanized, Takahashi believes that NHK, as Japan’s national broadcaster, shouldn’t go with the trend, but remain determined to prioritize the use of Japanese, which he thinks would go a long way toward protecting Japanese culture,” Mutsuo Miyata, the plaintiff’s lead attorney, told The Japan Times on Wednesday.

Takahashi heads a small organization named Nihongo wo taisetsu ni suru kai, which translates as “group that appreciates the Japanese language.” But Miyata acknowledged that the group’s activities are sporadic and that he is practically the only recognized member.

“I contacted NHK with inquiries into this issue, but there was no response. So I decided to take this to court,” Kyodo News quoted Takahashi as saying. “I want the broadcaster to take into account the presence of elderly viewers like me when it’s creating shows.”

The use of loan words is not peculiar to NHK, but given the broadcaster’s national influence and public nature, Takahashi wanted to “sound a warning” about the media’s rising “belittlement” of Japanese viewers, said another lawyer representing him who did not wish to be named.

Takahashi said NHK must realize it has a diverse and widespread viewership and is thus obliged to keep its programming as “neutral” as possible. Its tendency toward foreign words “clearly signals its lack of consideration for the philosophical diversity of its audience,” the complaint reads.

NHK had yet to study the complaint, a representative said.