National

Next president of NHK vows to create programs people can trust

JIJI

Terunobu Maeda, who has been named the next president of NHK, said Tuesday that he will focus on creating television programs the public can trust.

“The most important thing is to continue to make programs trusted by the public, as NHK is the public broadcaster,” said Maeda, 74, former chairman of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., at a news conference in Tokyo.

“I was surprised at the sudden nomination, but I’d like to do a job suitable for the public broadcaster,” he said.

According to Maeda, he was asked without prior notice on Monday by Susumu Ishihara, chairman of NHK’s board, to take up the post. Maeda said that he accepted the request immediately, thinking that “there was no choice” but to do so.

Asked about a series of managerial challenges facing NHK, including the launch of full-scale online simulcast services slated for next April, Maeda said, “I will study hard until taking office” as NHK president.

In October 2018, the board issued a severe warning to incumbent NHK President Ryoichi Ueda after a program aired earlier that year that detailed inappropriate insurance sales practices by Japan Post Holdings Co., following a protest from the company.

“At the moment, I have no clear awareness of the issue,” Maeda said of the move by the board, which has been criticized for intervening and compromising the broadcaster’s independence.

Maeda is a member of Shiki no Kai, a group of business leaders favorable toward Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“It’s absolutely not the case that I’m close to a certain administration,” Maeda said, denying a media report that the prime minister’s office was behind his nomination.

In recent cronyism allegations, Abe has been under fire for inviting many of his supporters to state-funded annual cherry blossom-viewing parties hosted by the prime minister.

Maeda will succeed Ueda, 70, whose term of office is scheduled to expire on Jan. 24. Maeda is expected to serve a three-year term as NHK president from Jan. 25.