Comments from the President

Summary of Press Conference (September, 2022)

  • On a New Disaster-Alert Service

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu, President)

    September 1st is Disaster Prevention Day. I would like to explain our new efforts regarding disaster prevention. In our corporate plan, NHK states that it will disseminate more information about Japan’s local communities and contribute to the development of Japan’s broadcasting media industry. We aim to make our content and data more freely available so that they can be used widely. As a part of that, we will make accessible the audio of our announcers calling for caution and evacuation in the event of heavy rain. Artificial intelligence developed by NHK was used to reproduce the way announcers speak during natural disasters. We have heard that officials at local governments in charge of disaster prevention for their regions are constantly seeking ways to convey information aimed at protecting lives when there is a possibility of a disaster caused by heavy rain. We hope to contribute to the improvement of regional disaster preparedness by making the audio data available for use in the event of heavy rain, and as a reference when preparing manuals related to the issue.

    (Comments by the project manager)

    NHK announcers who have been involved in broadcasts for disaster-prevention and -mitigation for many years were models for the AI audio that is used in this service. The techniques used by NHK announcers to convey information by speaking clearly and in a way that is easy to understand, such as by using an appropriate tone of voice and pauses suited to the context, were studied and developed by a computer using an AI automatic speech-synthesis system. We began this undertaking after receiving many requests from those in charge of disaster prevention at local governments and companies asking how NHK reaches out to the public in the event of disasters. We hope that in the future, people will come up with new ways and targets for use of the audio data. We intend to make further improvements to it.

  • On the 49th Japan Prize

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    The Japan Prize, an international competition dedicated to educational content, is unparalleled in the world. Since its establishment in 1965, it has focused on creating educational content for children who will be the leaders of the future, and on discovering and nurturing the talents of global creators. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the world is revisiting the importance of educational content. Educational content has supported children’s learning and played an important role in nurturing bonds, especially in countries and regions where schools have had to close temporarily. But with massive amounts of video content appearing every day on social media and other places, it has become difficult in recent times to find good-quality content. Amid all this, we believe the Japan Prize, which involves people with an interest in education and introduces top-quality content, has growing value and potential. The project manager will give an overview of this year’s event.

    (Comments by the project manager)

    This year, 353 entries were submitted from 57 countries and regions with a view to winning a prize in the five content divisions and the proposal division. After the preliminary selection, 51 entries were chosen as finalists. This year, jurors from 12 different countries and regions have been invited to Tokyo to participate in the final judging, which will be held in person for the first time in three years, to decide the winners of each division and of the Grand Prix Japan Prize. Also, from November 1st to 4th, there will be screenings of the Japan Prize winners and talks by creators who are active in the field of education and by the jurors in charge of the final judging. Just like last year, the event will be held not only in person but also streamed on the Japan Prize special website. It will also be available there on demand. For people outside of Japan who cannot watch in real time due to the time difference, we plan to include Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation so that they can enjoy the Japan Prize content. Also, the work of all of the finalists will be available for viewing on the special website. An English version of NHK’s SDGs theme song “Tsubame,” which will be familiar to those of you who watch “Minna no Uta,” will be used as the theme song for the Japan Prize. Created by the popular musical duo YOASOBI and sung by Midories, a group of five children, it will be called “Tsubame ~ World Version” and will be presented for the first time at the Japan Prize awards ceremony. The Japan Prize has conveyed through various educational content the challenges facing global education and the latest efforts to overcome them. We hope that the Japan Prize will be a platform, as always, through which creators from around the world can connect with children and think about the future of education together. The award-winning works for this fiscal year will be translated into Japanese and broadcast in the spring of next year. We will announce details of the schedule on the Japan Prize official website.