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August 2018

Series: War and Radio
[Part III] Silenced Voices

The Road to Wartime Radio Broadcasts

Junro Omori

In May 1932, a year after the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident, 1.2 million radio subscribers across Japan received a questionnaire asking their preference on radio programs. It was sent by the Telecommunications Department of the Ministry of Communications.

This paper focuses on listeners’ expectations for radio broadcasts which were stated for an open-ended question. Their voices reveal that not a few respondents hoped for the relaxation of censorship and were against bureaucratization of radio business operation.

These facts prompt two questions. One is why listeners could have such expectations for radio that had been under government control from the start and practically turned into a propaganda machine of the military and the government after the Manchurian Incident The other is how the Ministry of Communications and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation perceived these voices of the listeners.

In search for the answers, the author overviews the relations between the Ministry of Communications, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, and the listeners, covering the period from the commencement of broadcasting in Japan to radio broadcasts during the Pacific War. This examination will prove to be nothing less than the verification of discussions on the public nature of broadcasting.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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