• Kyodo


NHK President Katsuto Momii asked members of the public broadcaster’s executive board to give him their letters of resignation on his first day in the position last month — an apparent show of authority in personnel appointments — NHK sources said Friday.

At his first board meeting, held Jan. 25, Momii told members that they had been chosen by his predecessor and that as he wanted to handle personnel issues his way, he was asking for their resignation letters, the sources said.

Momii appears to be keeping the letters, as none of the members has so far resigned, the sources said, adding that he was not the first NHK chief to make such a demand.

At a Friday meeting of the Lower House’s Committee on Internal Affairs and Communications, Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Shoichi Kondo asked Momii whether he was in possession of the letters or not. Momii declined to comment on the matter, saying it was about personnel issues.

During his first news conference as new NHK chief — also held on Jan. 25 — Momii caused a stir by saying that “comfort women” — the euphemistic term in Japan for women used as sex slaves for Imperial Japanese Army soldiers during World War II — were used in “every country,” a remark he later retracted.

Two members of NHK’s board of governors have also drawn intense public attention over the past few weeks for expressing views seen as controversial for those involved in running the broadcaster that seeks to be politically neutral.

The board of governors, appointed by the prime minister, oversees the executive board, chaired by the president, that deliberates on the execution of key operations.

Gov. Naoki Hyakuta has denied Japan’s responsibility for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, while Michiko Hasegawa, another governor, has praised a right-wing activist who shot himself dead in 1993 at a newspaper publisher’s head office in Tokyo.

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