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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 9 - 15  > NHK under fire for its biased reports supportive of Abe gov't
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2019 January 9 - 15 [POLITICS]

NHK under fire for its biased reports supportive of Abe gov't

January 10, 2019

Many people these days complain about TV news reports. Most Akahata subscribers especially point out how frustrating NHK's news coverage of the Abe government is.

One example is its reports on the issue of U.S. bases in Okinawa.

An Akahata reader living in Nara City said he watched the program called "Close-Up Gendai Plus", NHK's major news show, on December 12 of last year because he saw the announcement that "the next program will focus on the Henoko base issue". However, he said, "It was like an Abe government PR program. It aired only a few footages of Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny at the time of his election, but aired repeatedly the present and the former Ministers of Defense who were expressing their opinions and making excuses about the issue."

NHK downplays or ignores public viewpoint

Another example is about the planned increase in the consumption tax rate to 10% which is set to be introduced in October this year. An Akahata reader in Okayama Prefecture said, "Most NHK news programs have been reporting that the tax hike is unchangeable. They act as a government representative. They don't report much about what the general public feels."

What happened to NHK? Former journalist of the NHK Osaka news bureau, Aizawa Fuyuki, pointed to the following factor:

The NHK news show "News Seven" in July 2017 carried a scoop on the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. It reported that the Finance Ministry's Kinki Finance Bureau had asked the Moritomo Gakuen how much the school would be able to pay for a purchase of state land and that this took place before the land was actually sold off at an astonishingly bargain basement price. After this broadcast, the news bureau chief in Tokyo called the news department chief in Osaka on his cellphone, yelling, "I've heard nothing about this! Why did you give the OK to run the program!"

"It was the moment that I witnessed that NHK puts a brake on any information the government does not want the public to know," said Aizawa in an Akahata Sunday edition interview (Dec.16, 2018).

NHK whistle blowers

On March 26 of last year, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Yamashita Yoshiki received documents that blew the whistle on the news bureau chief in Tokyo. Yamashita said, according to the documents, this NHK executive was giving instructions in detail to editors in chief of NHK news shows such as "News Seven", "News Watch Nine", and "Good Morning Nippon" on how they should cover the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. His instructions were: "Don't report it as headline news!", "Even if it will be reported as a top news item, its coverage must be less than three and a half minutes," and "Don't use video footages of Mrs. Abe!"

JCP Yamashita raised this matter in a meeting of the Lower House General Affairs Committee on March 29 and asked if NHK gave in to pressure from above and eventually deleted what the present government does not want reported. NHK President Ueda Ryoichi in reply simply said, "We consistently maintain fairness, correctness, and independence."

NHK must fulfill its public broadcasting function as a "watchdog of power".

Past related articles:
> NHK’s unreserved praise for PM Abe is abnormal [February 23, 2017]
> NHK supports Abe gov’t by not reporting on election issues [July 17, 2016]
> Ex-NHK employees criticize NHK for abandoning any sense of objective reportage [September 28 & October 2, 2015]
> Ex-NHK producer: Abe’s pressure changes role of public broadcasting [February 25, 2015]
> NHK shows increasing tendency to put voluntary restraint on programs critical of government policies [January 31, 2015]
> Turning NHK into gov’t publicity organ is totally unacceptable: media people [February 25&26, 2014]
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