A committee of Japan's Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) has concluded that there was a breach of broadcasting ethics in public broadcaster NHK's "News Watch 9" program.

A one-minute report shown in the news program on May 15 gave the impression that three people who appeared in video footage lost family members due to COVID-19 infection although they actually died after receiving coronavirus vaccine shots, the committee found Tuesday.

The content was misleading because it did not convey that the three were members of a group of bereaved families claiming damage due to COVID-19 vaccines.

The ethics committee found it problematic that although the individual who edited the segment was assigned to the video editing department and had insufficient news-gathering experience, no necessary support was provided, and that checks failed to identify the issue even during a preview that took place before broadcasting.

The committee said that the voices of the three were edited and conveyed in just 24 seconds in a way that treated the deaths of people "too lightly."

The program "ended up betraying the trust of viewers and hurting the feelings of the bereaved," the committee also said.

NHK, or Japan Broadcasting Corp., has already apologized, saying that the way the story was reported was inappropriate. Disciplinary actions have been taken against those involved.

In a statement the same day, NHK said that it takes the BPO's admonition seriously. "We will reconfirm our stance of approaching the truth at every stage of reporting and production, and we will steadily implement measures to prevent any recurrence, such as thorough journalism education," it said.