The start of TV news
Regular television news bulletins have
been a feature of Japanese TV since day one. The initial nine minutes
of news each day was gradually extended. At first, NHK commissioned
companies to produce newsreels on film, but within six months NHK's
own news gathering service was already sufficiently robust.
First live outside broadcast
The public began to look forward to live
news transmissions of events in which there was strong popular interest.
The first live outside broadcast presented the departure of the Crown
Prince from the port of Yokohama to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth
II in Britain. This was just two months after the launch of Japanese
A year later, in 1954, NHK used a helicopter
for the first time to take newsreel shots from the air of the Nijubashi
Incident, a tragedy in which many people in a celebratory New Year crowd
were crushed to death.
Politics in the living room
TV debuted in Japan shortly after the end
of the Allied Occupation and the start of a new political era for the
country. TV provided in-depth coverage of the political situation as
events unfolded, including the birth of the
Liberal Democratic Party, an alliance of conservative forces, in 1955,
and the merging of the left and right wings of the Japan Socialist Party.
TV news gatherers and producers attached
special importance to making news visual. The revision of the U.S.-Japan
Security Treaty in 1960 was a very controversial issue that divided
the nation, and NHK produced a series of special programs focusing on
The Ise Bay Typhoon
In 1959, a major typhoon coincided with
high tide at the port of Nagoya, causing heavy flooding and serious
damage. This was the first time in NHK's coverage of natural disasters
that a weather forecaster from the Meteorological Agency appeared on
TV to describe the route of the typhoon and share related information
for use in disaster prevention.
A 1963 kidnapping grabbed public attention
because of the absence of physical evidence, with only a threatening
phone call as a lead. NHK was asked by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police
to help analyze a recording of the caller's voice. The culprit was finally
arrested two and a half years later. This was the first kidnapping to
be covered extensively on television.
Historic events transmitted live
In the 1970's, satellite technology made
it possible for TV viewers in Japan to witness such historic events
as U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China, Japanese Prime Minister
Tanaka Kakuei's visit to China, and the signing of the Vietnam Peace
Accords in Paris.
In 1972 came a stand-off with the United
Red Army at the Asama-Sanso mountain lodge. Daily coverage climaxed
with a showdown and arrests on February 28, scenes of which were broadcast
live on television for more than 10 hours from 9:40 a.m.
The Lockheed Scandal
At a hearing of a U.S. Senate investigating
committee in February 1976, it was disclosed that Lockheed Corporation
was bribing Japanese politicians in order to sell aircraft in Japan.
NHK put together a team of reporters and
cameramen from all over Japan to carry out intensive news gathering
and reporting for 10 long months as Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was
arrested in July and a general election followed in December of the
same year. NHK and other Japanese TV broadcasters chose not to rely
solely on information provided by the investigating authorities, preferring
instead to conduct their own enquiries.
The 1980's were hailed as a new era for
investigative journalism and NHK was in the forefront. Typifying the
new approach was the program News Center
Special: What Happened in the Cockpit?, which attempted to pinpoint
the cause of a Japan Airlines crash.
50 Years of NHK News1953-'79
50 Years of NHK News 1980-2003